The Latest: Evacuees describe trees aflame, waiting at Kmart

The Latest on evacuations ordered for a wildfire in Northern California (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

Shelley Freeman says her family and friends scrambled to evacuate in Northern California as a fast-moving fire approached.

She says she heard from a friend that people, horses and dogs had congregated in a parking lot of a Kmart in the town of Paradise. The friend waiting there with dogs in her car described to her all the trees around the store as on fire.

Freeman says her friend described being surrounded by explosions in the parking lot and soon being unable to see the fire because of all the smoke.

Freeman says she’s had trouble reaching her family and friends who live in the area because phone lines are down. Those she has heard from say the roads are gridlocked.

Freeman says she’s scared for everyone and feels helpless from far away.

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10:50 a.m.:

A Northern California hospital says it has evacuated its patients because of a fast-moving wildfire.

Adventist Health Feather River said in a post on Twitter Thursday that is transported to surrounding area hospitals. Hospital officials have not returned calls from The Associated Press about the evacuation.

The hospital is in Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

The Chico Enterprise-Record reports that a retirement home and Ponderosa Elementary School were also evacuated.

Evacuated hospital patients are being taken to hospitals throughout the region.

The fire started around 6:30 a.m.

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10:20 a.m.

Shary Bernacett says she and her husband tried to get people to leave the mobile home park they manage in Paradise, California, with just minutes to evacuate as a wildfire approached the east side of town.

Bernacett said she and her husband “knocked on doors, yelled and screamed” to alert as many of the residents of 53 mobile homes and recreational vehicles as possible to leave the area Thursday morning as authorities ordered the area evacuated.

She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through 12-foot high flames before getting to safety on Highway 99.

Bernacett says the fire overtook the Feather River Hospital, about two miles (three kilometers) east of the mobile home park.

She says the air is black with smoke and ash.

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10 a.m.:

A wildfire in Northern California has grown to nearly 8 square miles (20 square kilometers) as officials rush to evacuate residents.

Tina Greer says the Paradise care home where her disabled son lives with five other patients is evacuating, but it takes time to pack the patients’ medical equipment and medicine. Her 25-year-old son has cerebral palsy, needs a wheelchair to get around and is fed through a tube.

Greer says heavy ash is falling in Chico, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) west of the fire.

The Butte County Sheriff’s office says an evacuation order was issued Thursday for areas of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

Greer works for a phone answering service that is handling numerous phone calls for the Feather River Hospital, which has been ordered to evacuate and is not responding to calls.

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8:30 a.m.

Authorities in Northern California have ordered mandatory evacuations in a rural area where a wildfire has grown to 1,000 acres (405 hectares) amid hot and windy weather.

The Butte County Sheriff’s office says an evacuation order was issued Thursday for areas of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 70 near the fire and urged motorists to avoid the area.

Fire officials say firefighters are working to access the area and that the blaze continues to spread.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through Friday evening.

From Fox News.

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