A powerful wildfire has killed nine people and incinerated an entire town in what has been described as California’s most destructive blaze in at least a century.
Just a day after it began, the blaze in the town of Paradise, in northern California, had grown to nearly 140 square miles and destroyed more than 6,700 buildings - almost all of them homes, according to standard newspaper.
Fire crews said it was burning completely out of control.
"There was really no firefight involved," Captain Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, explaining that crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people get out alive.
"These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday."
Another 35 people are reported missing and at least three firefighters have been injured in the fire in Paradise which has a population of around 30,000 people.
With fires also burning in Southern California, state officials put the total number of people forced from their homes at about 250,000.
The fires were raging in the city of Malibu and the city of Thousands Oaks which was still reeling from a mass shooting earlier this week which left 12 victims dead.
Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu, which is home to 13,000, among them some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner’s home in the hills above Malibu was completely destroyed in the fire, TMZ reported.
Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian, Jenner’s stepdaughter, were among those to take to social media to confirm they were safe. Star Wars actor Mark Hill said the fire was “dangerously close to our home” and applauded the work of the fire service.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angelescounties.
When Paradise was evacuated, the order set off a desperate exodus in which many motorists got stuck in gridlocked traffic and abandoned their vehicles to flee on foot.