The wildfire that has been raging through California since last week is so hot that cars are melting.
Thousands of people in the state have been ordered to evacuate their homes, with both Northern and Southern California hit by the fires.
Strong winds continue to propel the fire, putting more lives and buildings at risk and yesterday (November 12) President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the state.
According to CNN the northern fire – which is referred to as the ‘Camp Fire’ – has officially become the deadliest single wildfire on record for the state after it killed 48 people and destroyed more than 8,800 homes and businesses, particularly in the town of Paradise.
The fire on the southern side, called the ‘Woolsey Fire’, has burned through at least 97,000 acres, destroyed 483 structures, and killed two people.
In a press conference, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea described how 228 people are still unaccounted for:
Given what we’ve dealt with so far with casualties as a result of this fire, I have concerns that [the death toll] will rise.
In some instances, people have been in the process of evacuating the area when the flames have become overbearing, trapping them in their vehicles.
According to the MailOnline, at least seven people have died after getting trapped inside their cars as a result of getting stuck in traffic whilst trying to evacuate as the flames closed in.
Others had to abandon their cars completely, doing anything they could to run from the blaze. The cars that got left behind were scorched; some even melted.
Looks like my #hondacivichybrid didn’t help the environment after all 😢 I still love you you #Honda and hopefully I can get another one soon. At least I didn’t loose my life in the #campfire, I’d take the loss of a car, over the loss of a life any day. #buttecountystrong pic.twitter.com/P12ChhbBsZ
— Brittany Rae (@Bhubbs88) November 14, 2018
One nurse, who had stayed behind to evacuate patients from the hospital she worked at, got stuck in gridlocked traffic when she tried to leave the area.
Nichole Jolly, 34, a surgical nurse at Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, told NBC News that she was in the process of evacuating when flames started closing in on the surrounding area.
Jolly described how her car was rear-ended in the chaos, resulting in her falling down a ravine. She got out of her car and attempted to get into another one, but the handles had melted off. Her trousers then caught fire, forcing her to run.
I’m breathing in the hottest air I’ve ever been in. My throat is bloodied, I’m about to hit the ground but the bottom of my shoes were melting. I put hand out in front of me and prayed to God, ‘Please, don’t let me die like this.’
She made it to a fire truck but even then she wasn’t hopeful as she said it looked like it was melting. As the firefighters pulled her into the truck, she said she was told ‘Brace yourself. We might not make it’.
Luckily, a bulldozer found the vehicle and ended up clearing a path for the truck to drive to the hospital. But others weren’t as lucky.
With 50 people confirmed dead and a further 228 still missing, the wildfires continue to tear through California.
The Camp Fire, as of yesterday (November 13), was 35 per cent contained and the Woolsey Fire was 47 per cent contained but strong winds continue to propel the fire.
The firefighters are doing some incredible, relentless work to contain the fire. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the devastating events.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help those impacted by the fires – donate here.
If you are affected by the California fires, please visit Cal Fire for up to date information about evacuation centres and containment.
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).