Camp Fire Becomes the Most Destructive Fire in California’s History

The Camp Fire erupted in the Feather River Canyon on Thursday, it began moving quickly towards the town of Paradise. Although it was a frightening incident, it didn’t bring much shock to Northern California residents who have become used to destructive wildfires. Unfortunately, this fire broke all the rules.

After assessing the damage of the fire that completely destroyed the town of Paradise, our worst fears were realized – the Camp Fire has become the most destructive fire in the history of California.

The numbers are still piling in, but as of right now, there are 6,453 homes and 260 commercial buildings burned to the ground. Nine fatalities have also been recorded, but even more are feared. In just over 36 hours, the Camp Fire surpassed the Tubbs Fire of 2017, which destroyed 5,636 structures. The fire remains 5 percent contained with 90,000 acres burned.

Earlier in the week, PG&E announced it might suspend power to many NorCal communities in anticipation of the high winds and dry conditions. According to radio transmissions, it was downed PG&E power lines that started the fire.

The scene in Paradise is mostly devastation. Rare buildings survived the flames, including Paradise High School, Town Hall, Paradise Intermediate School, Holiday Quality Foods and an Ace Hardware store. But everything else seemed to be wiped out from the flames.

The people dead from the fire seemed to have died while being trapped in the cars on the side of the road. Graphic videos, which we won’t share on this site, show dead bodies in charred vehicles on the road near Paradise.

School in Butte County, including Butte College and Chico State, was canceled Friday. The county courthouses in Chico and Oroville were closed as well.

Chico has survived the flames, as a wall of firefighters were positions along East 20th Street to protect the college town with a 100,000 population. 52,000 people remain evacuated from their homes as a crew of 3,200 people continue to fight the flames.

For all of the 24 hour coverage of the Camp Fire, see our live coverage below:

Update Friday – 10 am:

The Camp Fire, which has destroyed the entire town of Paradise, continues to move quickly in high winds, quadrupling in size overnight to grow to a total of 70,000 acres with 5 percent containment.

Right now, officials estimate that 2,000 structures have been destroyed, making it the fourth most destructive fire in California’s history.

Although the total damage has not yet been assessed, fire officials are fearful that not much survived the swift attack of the fire on Thursday. Per reports, many homes and businesses were destroyed, including the town’s Kmart, McDonalds, Safeway and the Feather River Hospital. Some reports put the missing persons list around 400 people.

now apparently over 70,000 acres. I’m not sure most folks realize how stunning it is for a wildfire in this kind of terrain/vegetation to go from zero to 70,000 acres in under 18-20 hours. Really sobering news yet to make it out of .” tweeted UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain.

Firefighters spent Thursday night creating a wall between the fast-moving fire and the town of Chico, which is home to 100,000 people, including the large student population of Chico State.

Videos have emerged showing the battle firefighters waged on the fire overnight, including the below video of the fire ripping through the car dealership:

High winds are expected to continue through Friday as firefighters will fight to keep the flames away from populated areas. Some rare good news was presented to the community this morning, as all Chico evacuations have been lifted:

Read below for our 24 hour coverage of the fire:

Update 5:30 am:

At 6:30 am yesterday, a fire burst out during a Red Flag Warning in the Feather River Canyon and quickly moved due north towards the town of Paradise. Nearly 24 hours later, that town has been “wiped out” by the flames.

As the flames moved uncontained down the hill towards the college town of Chico, firefighters formed a blockade on the east side of town, working all night to keep the 100,000 people in Chico safe. As of right now, the fire sits at an official number of 20,000 acres with over 1,000 homes burned and 50,000 people evacuated.

Although it’s impossible to know, the fear is that the true numbers of the fire may be much higher. It’s hard to imagine any structures surviving the flames in the Paradise area and mapping experts have put the burnt area around 54,000 acres.

The town of Paradise has seemingly lost everything – homes, schools, businesses, a hospital. From all reports on the ground, the number might be truly sobering when they are reported.

“My best estimate from what I am hearing about the is that the next update on structures lost will be truly sobering and shocking,” tweeted Rob Carlmark, Meteorologist for ABC10.

Meanwhile, a plume of smoke is hovering over Northern California, causing poor air quality and visibility in every direction. Many schools and businesses are closing on Friday in order to stay inside to avoid the conditions.

The high winds are expected to last into the evening on Friday, giving firefighters a strong battle throughout the day. the battle will all depend on the movement and intensity of the winds.

We will continue to update the fire throughout the day. See below for the terrifying day of reporting the fire on Thursday.

Update 10 pm:

As officials assess the incredible damage of the Camp Fire in Paradise, where the fire left little intact and up to 1,000 structures have been destroyed, the fire is making its way down the hill to Chico, where evacuations are being put in place.

“Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean

Evacuations are expected to continue through the night, putting the college town of Chico on edge as the fire continues to move swiftly in the dead grass separating it from Paradise. Firefighters have mobilized near the edge of the fire in preparation for a night of battle:


  • All areas in the City of Chico south of Highway 32 and east of Bruce Road.
  • An evacuation order has been issued for the area of both sides of Oro Chico Highway from Durham Dayton north to Estates Drive
  • An evacuation order has been issued for the area of Cherokee from Highway 70 to the lake south to Table Mountain Boulevard
  • Pulga
  • Highway 70 from Concow South including all of Yankee Hill on both sides of 70
  • Paradise: Fire zones 2,3,6 and 13
  • Pentz Road from Paradise south to Highway 70
  • All of Paradise is under mandatory evacuation except for Lower Clark Road, Lower Neil Road and Lower Skyway Road.
  • Magalia: Carnegie Zone, North Pines Zone, North Fire Haven Zone, South Fire Haven Zone, South Pine Zone, Old Magalia Zone and South Coutelenc Zone
  • Centerville and Butte Creek areas
  • From Pentz Road & Highway 70 south to Highway 149, including Butte College
  • Lower Clark and Lower Skyway zones, south of Paradise
  • The Nimshew zone, north of Paradise
  • Children from the Paradise School District have been taken to the Mormon Church of Chico located at 2430 Mariposa Avenue, Chico.


  • Evacuation warning has been issued for the area west of Highway 99 from Highway 149 north to Chico City Limits west to the Midway
  • An evacuation warning has been issued for Hwy 32 at Nople Avenue UP TO the Butte County Line.
  • Hwy 32 at Nople Avenue down to the Chico City Limits.
  • Skyway from Lower Paradise down the Skyway to the Chico City Limits. This evacuation warning does not include the City of Chico.
  • Fire Zones 11 and 12 in Paradise
  • The Upper Honey Run zone, west of Paradise
  • Lower Neal zones, south of Paradise

Update 8:30 pm:

The worst fears of the fast-moving Camp Fire in Butte County have been realized, as up to 1,000 homes have burned in Paradise and reports of multiple fatalities have been confirmed by the Butte County Sheriff’s Department.

Cal Fire said that the fire sits at 20,000 acres with zero containment as evacuations continue to move down the hill towards Chico. Nearby residents are advised to be prepared to evacuate at any moment.

Many homes and businesses were burned in the flames, with photos emerging online showing the sheer carnage the fire left in its wake. Feather River Hospital was completely evacuated before it burned.

Currently, about 50,000 people have evacuated their homes (evacuation orders below). It is not yet determined exactly how many structures have been burned but we can only assume the flames will continue well into the night, with the wind advisory not expected to let up until Friday evening. A “Firenado” was spotted in the area, a terrifying sight for anyone who remembers the Carr Fire in July.

Cal Fire-Butte County Chief Darren Read said the city of Chico is threatened because winds are blowing toward Chico and will continue to do so overnight.

See below for all of our updates throughout the day.

Update 5:00 pm:


With the Camp Fire growing to 20,000 acres in under 12 hours, it is moving at an incredible pace of 80 football fields per minute. And as the chaos continues in the Butte County communities near Paradise, friends and family are desperately searching for their loved ones in the line of fire.

With cell phone reception out since this morning, it has been nearly impossible to stay in contact with people in Camp Fire vicinity, forcing friends and family to search for them online. Up to 450 people are reported missing. Posts to social media were hoping to locate missing people:

While official reports are still sparse in the area, it seems like there are many structures burned including homes, businesses and even a hospital:

Update 1:30 pm:

Cal Fire has confirmed that the Camp Fire, which is swiftly moving through Butte County, has grown to 17,000 acres in just 7 hours. Although official reports from the fire have been sparse due to its fast-moving nature, residents in the area have taken to social media to tell the terrifying stories surrounding the fire.

The fire has exploded through the community of Paradise, with buildings burning, including the Feather River Hospital. Online videos have shown homes and cars on fire throughout the area.

In a scary turn of events, evacuations are moving quickly down the hill to Forest Avenue in Chico, which sits on the east edge of town and includes many heavily populated areas. These evacuations seem to be strictly precautionary at the time, but should alert any nearby residents to be prepared to evacuate at any moment.

Cell phone service has been cut in the area, making it nearly impossible to contact friends and loved ones in the Paradise area. Many people are having trouble locating their loved ones, making it very difficult for rescue officials to determine how dangerous these missing persons reports truly are. Then there are people like the man pictured below, that was walking into the area into in search of his wife and daughter:

Crews from all over the state are on the way to the area to assist with the fire. Injuries and structures have been destroyed, but those numbers are not currently available. Although a fatality had been reported earlier, that has not been confirmed by officials.

Mandatory evacuations include: The Town of Pulga, Zones 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13 and 14, South Pines Zone, Old Magalia Zone, South Coutolenc Zone, Carnegie Colter Zone, North Pines Zone, North Firhaven Zone, South Firhaven Zone, Centerville, Butte Creek, the area of Pentz Road and Highway 70 south to Highway 149 including Butte College and the area of Highway 70 from Concow south including Yankee Hill on both sides of Highway 70.

Evacuation warnings include: Lower Neal Zone, Upper Honey Run Zone, Lower Clark Zone, Lower Skyway Zone, Nimshew Zone and Zones 11 and 12.

Keep reading for more information including evacuation info and video/photos of the Camp Fire.

Update 11:00 am:

Reports now say that the fast-moving Camp Fire has grown to over 10,000 acres in just over 4 hours, while residence in the area continuing to flee the dangerous flames. A fire analyst estimated the size of the fire from Google Earth reports:

Due to the fast-moving nature of the fire, it has been nearly impossible to find concrete numbers of the destruction the fire has left in its wake. Videos have emerged on social media showing structures burning and people surrounded by flames.

The Feather River Hospital has reportedly burned, with medical workers scrambling to evacuate people in the hospital. An air ambulance was called for a woman stuck in traffic in a ambulance while in labor.

Meanwhile, a plume of smoke is hovering over NorCal, causing visibility issues and poor air quality in neighboring communities, reaching all the way to Sacramento.

As of now, the wind continues to move at an incredible rate, but is currently moving south, away from the heavily populated areas of Chico. 14,000 people have lost power due to the fire. Here are all of the evacuation zones:

EVACUATION ORDERS: All of Paradise is under mandatory evacuation except for Lower Clark Road, Lower Neil Road and Lower Skyway Road.

Carnegie Zone

North Pines Zone

North Fire Haven Zone

South Fire Haven Zone

South Pine Zone

Old Magalia Zone

South Coutelenc Zone

Centerville and Butte Creek areas


Lower Neal and Upper Honey Run zones


Oroville Nazarene Church located at 2238 Monte Vista Ave., Oroville.

Neighborhood Church in Chico

For animals:

Small animal shelter set up at 2279 Del Oro Avenue, Oroville.

Large animal shelter set up at Camelot located at 1985 Clark Road, Oroville.

Update 9:45 am:

With winds up to 50 mph, the Camp Fire continues to move quickly as the Feather River Hospital is being completely evacuated and the people of the town of Paradise flee the flames. In just under 3 hours, the scanner shows the fire has grown to 5,000 acres.

Reports of people trapped in the Feather River Hospital were reported on the scanner as emergency officials scramble to get people out of the area. The scanner is reporting that fatalities are possible.

People are reportedly abandoning their cars along the road as the fire has jumped the Skyway near Magalia.

A plume of smoke hovers over Chico as ash is raining from the sky and droves of cars are moving down the Skyway and away from the flames. There have been reports of at least one structure burning, vehicles being trapped by the flames and blackout conditions in some areas. All zones in Paradise are under evacuation.

The KMart and Taco Bell in Paradise are reportedly burning.

We will continue to update the situation as information is made available.

Update: 9:00 am

The Camp Fire erupted in Butte County early Thursday morning and quickly grew to 1,000 acres, now forcing mandatory evacuations in the Feather River Canyon and well as the entire town of Paradise. As it moves from the canyon and into populated areas, the fire is approaching the Feather River Hospital and anyone on Pentz road is under mandatory evacuation orders.

The fire was first reported around 6:30 a.m. and was first reported in the Camp Creek Road area near Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon. The fire comes under current Red Flag Warning conditions, designated by the National Weather Service when high winds and dry fuels create dangerous fire conditions.

We will continue to update this article as information is made available. Here are some of the top posts from social media regarding the Camp Fire:


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