Wildfires rage across California, killing at least five

A Cal Fire firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through the area

Its rapid growth and early-morning arrival means that residents didn't have much time to leave or firefighters time to prepare, leaving them to play a game of catch-up against an extremely active fire.

"The preliminary investigation revealed that the victims were located in vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire", said a statement, adding that they had yet to be identified.

Dozens of other people were reported missing. As of Friday morning, Cal Fire says the fire is up to 70,000 acres and only 5 percent containment.

The flames destroyed hundreds of homes, a hospital, a gas station, several restaurants and numerous vehicles in Paradise, officials said.

A wildfire burns boats on Malibu Lake in Malibu, Calif., Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.

Typically, for Los Angeles at least, the serious headlines are interspersed with others reporting that the mansion from the television series The Bachelor is burning, or that the homes of former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and pop icon Cher, are at risk. A list compiled by a local news affiliate reports a growing number of missing people after almost the entire town of Paradise, population roughly 30,000, has been destroyed.

Mandatory evacuation orders affect approximately 52,000 people.

6,453 of those structures were residences, 260 were commercial buildings.

And on Friday, Newsom also declared a state of emergency for the raging fires also ravaging Ventura County near Los Angeles as well.

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"It's a very risky and very serious situation", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. "And it moved very, very quickly from a rather remote area to populated areas".

Police officer and resident Mark Bass described the apocalyptic scenes, saying: 'We were surrounded by fire, we were driving through fire on each side of the road'. "All of it is engulfed in flames right now".

"Not one home will be left standing", he said. Her father, a lineman for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, was called in from another district to help shut down power, she said. "It's like we're all walking around kind of in a trance". One of the worst fires in state history hit the area in September 1970, destroying 400 homes and killing 10 people.

The erupted Thursday near the northwest corner of the city of Los Angeles as the region's notorious Santa Ana winds gusted, triggering overnight evacuations of an estimated 75,000 homes in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County.

The National Weather Service said conditions were "favourable" ahead of the weekend, with still very dry conditions but lighter winds.

It easily jumped eight-lane Highway 101 and rambled over the Santa Monica Mountains to posh Malibu, where it torched homes and cars.

Celebrities were among those forced to flee, including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. On Instagram she urged people to "pray for Calabasas". My children are safe.

"Heavenly Father, please help us - please help us to be safe", the woman prays in the passenger seat, choking back tears as their vehicle threads a path toward safety through billowing clouds of ash and embers. Scott Derrickson, director of Marvel's "Doctor Strange" movie, said on Twitter that he lost his home to the wildfire.

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