By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – Multiple wildfires continue to rage across the state of California, claiming at least five lives Friday, according to local authorities.
The Camp Fire in northern California was responsible for the five deaths, and destroyed most of the nearby town of Paradise, forcing some people to leave their cars and escape the fire's path on foot.
More than 150,000 people were reportedly given mandatory evacuation orders after the fire broke out on Thursday, with an estimated 2,000 structures having been destroyed.
The Butte County Sheriff's Department confirmed the deaths, saying that the bodies were "located in vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire."
The Camp fire is currently 70,000 acres in size, more than three times the size of New York City and Washington D.C. combined.
A state of emergency was also declared in Butte County.
Other major fires in the state include the Hill Fire, currently 6,000 acres in size, and the Woolsey Fire, which is 8,000 acres in size.
Both fires are in Ventura County near the Los Angeles area, triggering an evacuation warnings for thousands of residents as the fires continue to grow in size.
"The magnitude of the destruction that we are seeing is really, again, unbelievable and heartbreaking. And our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this," California's Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said at a news conference.
Red Flad Warnings, the highest level fire alert, were issued by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) across southern California from Los Angeles to San Diego.
The fire season in California usually runs from mid-summer and lasts until around the middle of October, however experts now say they may now be expected year round.