California's Camp Fire has melted cars and reduced bodies to bone — these images show the horror of the state's deadliest fire ever

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA Cal Fire firefighter outside a burning home in Magalia, California, on November 9, 2018.

California is in flames to the north and south as the deadly Camp and Woolsey fires rage on.

Both wildfires lit up on Thursday, November 8, and have been stoked by dry, windy conditions. The Woolsey Fire has destroyed parts of Malibu and other areas on the outskirts of Los Angeles, while the Camp Fire ravaged the town of Paradise, California, which is north of Sacramento. That fire has killed at least 63 people – more people than any fire in state history.

Investigators think some sparking power lines could have been the cause of the blaze. Stocks of California’s two largest energy companies fell sharply on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported, as investors worried about where blame for the deadly fire will fall. A group of people whose homes burned to the ground is already suing Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

As of Friday, the Camp Fire had burned 142,000 acres and was 45% contained. Hundreds of people are still missing, and fire officials expect it will take weeks to finish dousing the flames. In one week, the Camp Fire has already destroyed more structures than any fire California had before it: more than 10,000 homes and businesses are gone.

Here’s what the affected area of Northern California looks like.

The Camp Fire lit up just after 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning. In less than 24 hours, it devoured nearly the entire town of Paradise, California, growing at a rate of 80 football fields per minute.

Business Insider/Cal FireThe Camp Fire charred 200 square miles in Northern California from Thursday, November 8, through Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

Source: Insider

At 9:23 a.m. Thursday, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office sent out frantic tweets — first warning — then ordering residents to get out of the way of the flames. “What pisses me off is I don’t think they told everybody soon enough,” resident Kim Benn said.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA California Highway Patrol vehicle mans a checkpoint along Highway 32 as the Camp Fire burns in Chico, California, on November 9, 2018.

Source: Twitter, LA Times

At least six people died in their cars as they tried to escape.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA line of burned out abandoned cars sit on the road after the Camp Fire moved through Paradise, California, on November 9, 2018.

Source: Business Insider

With a death toll of at least 63, the Camp Fire is now the deadliest wildfire in California history.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesTraffic backed up on Highway 70 as people evacuated Paradise, California, on November 8, 2018.

Source: Business Insider

“The fire was so close I could feel it in my car through rolled up windows,” Rita Miller, who fled Paradise with her disabled mother, told the Associated Press.

Source: Associated Press

Anita Waters, who escaped her mobile home in Paradise, told the Times that she saw cars in flames with people still inside them as she left.


New York Times

Authorities warned that the Camp Fire’s body count could continue to climb, though they hope it doesn’t.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFirefighters try to keep flames from a burning home from spreading to a neighbouring apartment complex as they battle the Camp Fire on November 9, 2018, in Paradise, California.

Source: Business Insider

Cathy Fallon told the AP that the fire hit her house like a “big tsunami.” She managed to save her 14 horses and barn using a hose, but her house is gone.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFirefighters try to stop flames from spreading during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on November 9, 2018.

Source: Associated Press

“I just kept watering the barn and watering any areas in the barn that caught on fire,” she said. “It’s a dangerous situation. I remember my son saying, ‘Hey! There’s no firefighters. We’re on our own here.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ We were definitely on our own.”

Source: Associated Press

The blaze was so hot it melted metal. Allyn Pierce, a registered nurse, told The New York Times that he was in his truck sitting in traffic as a wall of fire approached. The registered nurse recorded a goodbye message to his family members, but a bulldozer cleared the way for him to escape just in time.

Source: The New York Times

Instead of getting far away from Paradise, however, Pierce drove to help patients at the local hospital, where he manages the intensive care unit. “It’s completely traumatic,” Pierce said about being trapped in his truck. “When I close my eyes at night, I see fire.”


Business Insider

All the patients from the hospital where Pierce works made it out safely, but the building burned.

Source: CBS News

Erin McLaughlin, who lives a few miles north of Paradise, told the Times that she left her home Thursday morning with her 81-year-old neighbour, Elisabeth Mesones. The two got stuck in traffic outside Paradise and escaped their cars on foot after hearing propane-tank explosions nearby.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA home burns as the Camp Fire moves through the area on November 8, 2018, in Paradise, California.


The New York Times

McLaughlin, Mesones, and roughly 75 other motorists gathered in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant. “Everything was on fire all around you,” McLaughlin said. “It was the most scary thing I’ve ever seen.” The group escaped after six hours, but the restaurant later burned down.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFuelled by high winds and low humidity, the rapidly spreading Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise.


The New York Times

Nearly 5,600 fire personnel are fighting the Camp blaze. In addition, around 1,000 California inmates are dousing the flames. The inmates are paid an average of $US2 a day for that work.

Source: KQED

Fire Captain Steve Millosovich rescued this cage of cats from the Camp Fire in Big Bend. He told the AP that the cage fell off the bed of a pickup truck driving to safety.

Hundreds of residents are still missing. On Tuesday evening, the Butte County sheriff’s office released a partial list of 100 names of missing people, and since then the number of missing has skyrocketed to 631.

Source: Chico Enterprise-Record

Teresa Moniz was in the town of Magalia last Thursday when her husband, Albert Moniz, called to say flames were approaching their home in Paradise. Albert Moniz, who is disabled and does not own a cell phone, later called from a friend’s house, but his wife has not heard from him since.

Source: Los Angeles Times

The Butte County fire chief said they haven’t had any rain in the area since May. Some precipitation is in the forecast for next week, though.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFirefighters hold a morning meeting as they continue to battle the Camp Fire on November 10, 2018, in Paradise, California.

Source: Associated Press

Red-flag warnings have been in effect across the state recently, which means the weather is ripe for fires due to high winds and low humidity. This has made fighting the flames extra challenging.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA helicopter drops water on the Camp Fire as it burns in the hills on November 11, 2018, near Cresta, California.

Source: Twitter

Firefighters don’t expect the blaze to be completely extinguished until the end of November.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSheriff’s deputies walk through a neighbourhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 10, 2018, near Paradise, California.

Source: Cal Fire

Rescue crews are searching for bodies. But sometimes they only recover a few small remains of a fire victim to put in a body bag.

Other times, only bone fragments are left among the charred remains of a home.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesYuba and Butte County sheriff’s deputies collect the human remains of victims of the Camp Fire on November 10, 2018, in Paradise, California.

A rapid DNA-analysis system and cadaver dogs are being dispatched to help identify victims. But DNA testing can be almost impossible if all that’s left is incinerated.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA Butte County sheriff’s deputy searches the property of a destroyed home for a reported Camp Fire victim on November 10, 2018, in Paradise, California.

Source: Associated Press

Wildfires are a natural part of California’s ecosystems, but they have recently gotten stronger and caused more destruction as the state sees less rain and higher temperatures. Dry, hot conditions, which are partially caused by climate change, are becoming the new normal.

Source: Business Insider

To make the situation worse, native plants such as Chaparral, which is a great fire buffer, have been cut down, and more non-native grasses and weeds have moved in, which are great fuel for fires. “Instead of trying to make the fires adapt to us, we have to create communities and live in situations where we allow the fires to burn around us, not through us,” Rich Halsey from the California Chaparral Institute said.

Sources: California Chaparral Institute, USGS Video, The New Yorker, Live Science

The wildfires have also led to dangerous breathing conditions that extend for hundreds of miles.

People in and around the San Francisco Bay Area are breathing air that the US government calls “very unhealthy.”

Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesFans wear face masks in the stands during the NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers on November 11, 2018, in Oakland, California.

Source: Business Insider

Fire experts say the term “wildfire season” has lost its meaning, since fires can essentially break out during any season now in California.

Source: Business Insider

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