OROVILLE — Residents in Paradise and upper Butte Creek Canyon are being evacuated because of the Camp Fire.
“It’s bad,” said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea. “We’re trying to get as many people out as quickly as possible and save as many lives as we can.”
The fire started about 6:30 a.m. today at Camp Creek Road near Pulga and swept west toward Paradise. It is at 5,000 acres with 0 percent containment, Cal Fire public information officer Rick Carhart said. Firefighters are expecting sustained winds up to 30-35 mph on the fire.
The fire was reported burning in town on the Skyway, as well as Pentz Road and Bille Road. Information was sparse, but witnesses and reporters on the ground described a chaotic scene as people tried to leave town. Structures were reported burning and, according to scanner traffic, two burn victims were flown to Chico. A pregnant woman stuck in traffic went into labor.
After staged evacuations started in the fire area near the West Branch Feather River canyon early in the morning, Honea said at 11 a.m. that the entire town was under an evacuation order. Butte Creek Canyon in the Centerville area and three zones in Magalia are also under evacuation order.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Feather River Hospital, a retirement home and Ponderosa Elementary School were all evacuated. Hospital patients were sent to Enloe Medical Center in Chico.
Butte College was being closed just after 10 a.m. The main campus will be closed for the rest of the day and evening as a precautionary measure due to the evacuations.
“The main campus is not threatened,” a press release from the college states.
Feather River Hospital’s 60 patients have been evacuated, and the building is closed, Maureen Wisener, public information officer said. Some employees are sheltering at the hospital. She said that she can see fire of both sides of Pentz Road.
Skyway was closed at Bruce Road heading up to Paradise so all four lanes could be used for downhill traffic to evacuate to the valley. No traffic is being allowed into Paradise.
Town Manager Lauren Gill said anyone who feels the need to leave, should leave. “The goal is to get as many people out of town safely and to save lives,” she said.
Highway 70 has been shut down at Pentz Road.
According to PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno, 4,400 customers are without power in the Paradise, Pulga and Concow areas. No public safety power shut off has been implemented.
Residents can evacuate to DeGarmo Park and Community Park off 20th Street in Chico, Durham Park, Oroville Nazarene Church (2238 Monte Vista Ave.) and Neighborhood Church in Chico (2801 Notre Dame Blvd.). DeGarmo Park is the best place for people with recreational vehicles, the city’s public works department said. The Silver Dollar Fairgrounds is being used as a staging area for fire crews and is not open to evacuees.
Classes at Butte College will still continue at the Chico Center, Skyway Center and Glenn Center.
Any students who took the bus to the main campus were asked to report to the bus stop area immediately. Bus service to Paradise will not be available as all roads into the city are inaccessible by the general public. For students displaced in the Paradise area, the college will provide bus service to the Oroville Nazarene Church which has been set up as an evacuation center.
The college is now being used as a staging area for fire personnel. For more information, see butte.edu. Any students and staff missing work or class today will be excused.