California wildfires: Malibu homes burn as death toll climbs to nine

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Two fires raging in northern and southern California have killed at least nine people and forced the evacuation of thousands of homes.

Ellerton, in an email to CNN, said it was odd to go from covering events related to Wednesday's shooting "to looking up in the afternoon and seeing plumes of smoke". Five people were found dead there vehicles that were overcome by flames, the Butte County Sheriff's Office said. "Regrettably, not everybody made it out".

A nurse called Rita Miller on Thursday morning, telling her she had to get her disabled mother, who lives a few blocks away, and flee Paradise immediately.

The remains of five of the victims were discovered in or near burned out cars, three outside residences and one inside a home, Honea said.

Fueled by winds, the wildfire jumped ridges from Pulga to Concow and down into Paradise, a town of 26,000 people about 85 miles north of Sacramento.

A school bus was among several abandoned vehicles left blackened by flames on one road. Its rapid growth and early-morning arrival means that residents didn't have much time to leave or firefighters time to prepare, leaving them to play a game of catch-up against an extremely active fire.

A wildfire burns a structure near Malibu Lake in Malibu, Calif., Nov. 9, 2018. "They were going off like bombs", said Karen Auday, who escaped to a nearby town. Less than an hour after CALFIRE published an update that the Camp Fire was up to 32km², the agency's public affairs office announced it was up to at least 68.8km² and the blaze is zero per cent contained. The two fires, the Woolsey and the Hill fires, had caused the evacuation of 250,000 in Southern California, Cal OES said.

Rapper Kanye West tweeted to thank everyone for their prayers, saying that his family was "safe and close".

Calabasas and Malibu are home to numerous celebrities and some have been posting on social media, including reality TV star Kim Kardashian.

Flames were engulfing homes, utility poles were crashing down and things were exploding, she said. Her publicist could not confirm the status of her house, but told Reuters that Jenner was safe.

Fire officials couldn't estimate how many buildings were lost from the so-called Woolsey Fire burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, but said they were expected to be significant. Residents awoke to the stench of smoke and the morning horizon drenched in an ashen-orange that was hard to see or drive through, hindering evacuations.

For the year to date, around 7500 fires have burned around 633,000 hectares of ground in California.

The fire broke out on Thursday north west of Los Angeles and roared south, jumping the United States 101 freeway early on Friday and sweeping into the Santa Monica Mountains.

The blaze erupted Thursday afternoon in Simi Valley, northeast of Thousand Oaks, not far from where a gunman shot dead 12 people in a mass shooting Wednesday night, spreading quickly, propelled by 70 miles per hour winds.

The fire rapidly climbed into the Santa Monica Mountains and raced toward the coast.

Travel was limited on U.S. Highway 101 in the county, state highway patrol troopers said.

A group of Cal Fire firefighters monitor ambers from a toppled wall while battling the Camp Fire in Paradise on Friday.

The Woolsey Fire, which started about 2:30 p.m. Thursday near the former Rocketdyne Complex in the Simi Hills area, had spread to 35,000 acres by sunset Friday.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Dave Richardson says 45,000 people in Ventura County and 43,000 more in Los Angeles County were ordered to evacuate overnight.

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