Paradise, located almost 145 kilometers north of Sacramento, was home to more than 26,000 residents, according to its website.
"There's nothing left standing", said Scott Maclean, the state's forestry and fire protection spokesman. "My hometown of Paradise is on fire".
Laura Anthony witnessed the fire whirl, a whirlwind caused by fire and consisting of flame or ash, on the outskirts of Paradise on Thursday. A member of the town, Brynn Parrott Chatfield, shared a video of the fire while driving in a auto on Facebook.
In less than 24 hours, the Camp Fire had torched over 31 square miles, or 20,000 acres, turning escape routes around the town of Paradise into tunnels of fire as the entire community of 27,000 residents were ordered to evacuate.
The flames are now threatening coastal areas further south, fire officials said. The Tubbs Fire, which destroyed 5,636 structures in Napa and Sonoma counties in October 2017, is listed by Cal Fire as the most destructive in state history. "It was just a wall of fire on each side of us, and we could hardly see the road in front of us".
Authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders for more than 50,000 people in the scenic area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, including some residents of Chico, population 93,000, near Paradise.
Residents described fleeing their homes and getting stuck in traffic jams as the flames sparked explosions and toppled utility poles.
"From the second it started, it was off to the races", Pimlott said. Cars and trucks, some with trailers attached, were left on the roadside as evacuees ran for their lives, said Bass, the police officer. Some were forced back by clogged roads, but all of them eventually made it out, some in dramatic fashion.
About 3,300 students and staff members from Paradise's 11 schools were evacuated in buses and employees' cars to a center in Chico, Butte County Schools Superintendent Tim Taylor said.
Residents of the beachside city of Malibu have been ordered to evacuate as three fast-moving wildfires raged in California on Friday morning, including one that also spurred the evacuation of 75,000 homes near a city that was still reeling from a mass shooting.
That afternoon, PG&E technicians on aerial patrol observed damage to a transmission tower on the same transmission line, approximately one mile north-east of the town of Pulga in the area of the Camp Fire.
NASA Massive plumes of smoke billow Friday over the state.
"The whole hill's on fire", she said while crying.