LOS ANGELES • Celebrities Kim Kardashian West, Alyssa Milano and Melissa Etheridge were among hundreds of thousands fleeing from their homes, as two monster wildfires burned out of control yesterday in northern and southern California.
Nine people were found dead in and around the Northern California town of Paradise, where more than 6,700 homes and businesses were burned down by Camp Fire, making it the most destructive blaze in California history, according to the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
"This event was the worst-case scenario. It was the event we have feared for a long time," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a Friday evening press conference.
"Regrettably, not everybody made it out."
The flames descended on Paradise so quickly that many people were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.
Camp Fire, which broke out on Thursday at the edge of the Plumas National Forest north-east of Sacramento, has since blackened more than 36,400ha and was only 5 per cent contained as of nightfall on Friday.
About 800km to the south in Los Angeles County, the 14,164ha Woolsey Fire was threatening 75,000 homes, and more than 200,000 people were under mandatory evacuation early yesterday.
Some of the evacuation orders were for residents within the City of Los Angeles in the West Hills area.
It was unclear how many homes have been evacuated within the City of Los Angeles.
Guillermo del Toro, director of Oscar best picture winner The Shape Of Water, tweeted that he had abandoned his vast Bleak House museum collection of fantasy and horror memorabilia, while singer Etheridge said she had moved into a hotel due to the fire.
The entire 12,000 population of Malibu, which stretches 43.5km along the Pacific Ocean in Southern California and up into the Santa Monica mountains, was placed under mandatory evacuation on Friday as the Woolsey Fire exploded overnight and jumped a freeway.
Malibu and nearby Calabasas are home to hundreds of celebrities and entertainment executives attracted by its ocean views, rolling hills and large, isolated estates.
Current and former residents include Barbra Streisand, Cher, Tom Hanks, Judd Apatow and Britney Spears.
Residents posted pleas on social media for help evacuating horses and other large animals from ranches, while long lines of traffic clogged the only coastal highway in and out of Malibu.
Kardashian West and her sister Kourtney said they left their homes in nearby Calabasas late on Thursday.
The former wrote in an Instagram Story that she had just one hour to pack up and evacuate her home.
Milano, a leading force in the #MeToo social movement against sexual harassment, asked for help getting five horses out of the area.
"I just had to evacuate my home from the fires. I took my kids, dogs, computer and my Doc Marten boots," the actress tweeted.
United States President Donald Trump early yesterday tweeted that "gross mismanagement of forests" was to blame for the two unchecked wildfires.
"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," he wrote in a Twitter post.
"Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!" he added.
KIM KARDASHIAN WEST
Posting on Instagram
"Just landed back home and had 1 hour to pack up & evacuate our home. I pray everyone is safe."
Later on Twitter
"I heard the flames have hit our property at our home in Hidden Hills but now are more contained and have stopped at the moment."
Posting on Instagram
"Evacuating earlier this morning... I pray everyone is safe."
GUILLERMO DEL TORO
Posting on Twitter
"Evacuated last night. Bleak House and the collection may be endangered but the gift of life remains. Thousand Oaks and Agoura are still in danger. Malibu is being evacuated."
Posting on Instagram
"this is my street as of two hours ago praying for the safety of all my malibu fam, grateful to our brave firefighters please stay safe"