Updated 6:41 p.m.
Authorities said at least nine people were killed Thursday in the wildfire that almost completely destroyed the town of Paradise.
Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea said Friday that one person was found in a home, three people were outside homes, and four were found inside their cars. He said another victim was found near a vehicle but outside it.
All the victims were found in Paradise, which was evacuated as a result of the blaze, called the Camp Fire.
Authorities say they conducted numerous rescues Friday as they fought the flames, including using helicopters to rescue five people in the nearby community of Magalia.
The sheriff says they have taken 35 reports of missing people.
Fire officials said Friday that the structures destroyed in the fire include 6,453 homes and another 260 commercial structures.
The Camp Fire began on the same day as a pair of fires in Southern California, the Woolsey and Hill Fires. Around 52,000 people have been forced to evacuate in Northern California, and 157,000 in Southern California. Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu, which is home to 13,000, among them some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
"The magnitude of the destruction we are seeing is really unbelievable and heartbreaking, and our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Management. "We know that there have been injuries and we know there has been loss of life."
We have developed a Google Doc resource with current #CampFire information. This resource is being used while the Butte County website is unavailable. This site will be updated continuously. https://t.co/YISLVgA9O3— Butte County, CA (@CountyofButte) November 9, 2018
Evacuations in Butte County spread Friday to the towns of Stirling City and Inskip as well as the eastern edge of Chico, though Cal Fire officials say no structures there are damaged and the city is under no immediate threat. The fire is expected to move north and critical fire conditions are expected Saturday. The area could experience 30 to 50 mile winds through Sunday and are expected to calm Monday, the National Weather Service reports.
Overall, the agency says the Camp Fire has burned 90,000 acres and is 5 percent contained. The cause is still being investigated.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says it experienced a problem on an electrical transmission line near the site of the fire minutes before the blaze broke out.
The company said in a one-paragraph summary filed Thursday with state utility regulators that it had experienced an outage on the line about 15 minutes before the fire started. The company said it later observed damage to a transmission tower on the line near the town of Paradise.
The filing was first reported by KQED News.
Meanwhile, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McClean said Paradise, a town of 27,000 in Butte County, has been "decimated."
"It is burned to the ground, for the most part," McLean said " A prediction of 80 percent is destroyed, but we’ll see here in the next couple days as we get into those areas.”
McLean said the fire fight was hampered by winds of up to 40 miles per hour, which spread embers far ahead of the main fire after it started around 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
"This fire spread in a manner of a couple hours," he said. “It started at 10 to 20 acres when our first engines were able to see it. We had access problems trying to get to the fire because of its location up in the mountains. As it burned, it was able to get into an area where winds started to push it, and pushed it towards the Paradise area through a community called Concow, and jumped a canyon."
There are numerous reports on social media of missing persons — the actor James Woods even started amplifying posts Thursday evening.
McLean said the burned out hulks of cars littered the roads in Paradise, requiring front-end loaders to clear out the roads. Many people who weren't able to evacuate were moved into "refuges," where firefighters could provide more protection.
“We sequestered the populous in certain areas that did not escape earlier, so they would be safe and would have fire resources around them," McLean said. "A lot of roads were congested with traffic that just could not move, so we moved those into church parking lots and store parking lots where we could get them all together and have our resources there to protect them.”
All Butte County public schools closed through Friday, November 23, 2018. The press release is linked here: https://t.co/Epx0zICgap— ButteCOE (@BCOEStory) November 9, 2018
OES' Ghilarducci said California has reached out to neighboring states for resources to respond to fires throughout the state, and that federal grants would soon be available.
"We are not just responding to what’s in front of us, but we are also contemplating what the next 24 and 48 hours are going to look like," he said. "We know that the winds are going to die down, but then we are going to be picking up another wind event that’ll be starting late Sunday and going into early next week. So we really need to be thinking about this from a strategic standpoint."
The fires are just the latest in a more than year-long string of massive wildfires that have devastated California and rewritten the lists of the largest and deadliest blazes in state history.
"Every day is fire season somewhere in California," Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said. "Every day we have the potential for these large, damaging, destructive and deadly wildland fires . . . we need the public to continue to listen to the message. Pay attention to evacuation information, follow very closely all of the public safety social media. Pay very close attention."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story is developing and will be updated.
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