Vaughan could hear screams and explosions nearby Thursday as she and her husband got in their car and drove away. But they soon found themselves trapped with other evacuees in standstill traffic.
The Camp Fire
was closing in.
“The flames were whipping and spreading so fast,” Vaughan told CNN. “It began to jump the road. There wasn’t anywhere to go.”
People began to panic, Vaughan said. In the chaos, one driver backed up and slammed the front of Vaughan’s SUV.
Motorists began abandoning their cars, fleeing on foot with their children in tow.
“There were no firefighters in sight,” Vaughan wrote on Facebook. “I am hoping all of these people made it out.”
Similar scenes played out in other communities this week as a trio of wildfires raged across the Golden State
The most devastating is believed to be the Camp Fire, which by Friday morning had grown to 90,000 acres and was encroaching on the city of Chico, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as a Cal Fire.
The fire has left nine people dead, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. Four people were found dead in vehicles that were overcome by flames and and one body was discovered near the vehicles. The other victims were found near or inside homes that burned.
Those killed in the vehicles weren’t far from where Vaughan and her husband found themselves trapped.
The blaze broke out early Thursday and has grown at an astonishing rate of 80 football fields per minute
. It charred 20,000 acres Thursday in less than 14 hours and has burned an area larger than Manhattan, according to CNN meteorologists.
Fueled by high winds and low humidity, the fire has placed millions of people under red flag warnings. Paradise Mayor Jody Jones said 80 to 90% of homes in residential neighborhoods are gone following the Camp Fire. Jones said she drove into Paradise on Friday with a fire official and two council members to assess the damage.