Evacuees describe racing for safety as Bear Fire explodes in size in Butte County

ByAndrew Morris KGO logo
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Evacuees describe racing for safety as Northern Complex West Zone fire explodes in size in Butte County
New evacuation orders have been issued for the Bear Fire near Oroville, north of Sacramento and south of Chico. Mandatory evacuations are spread across parts of Plumas, Butte, and Yuba counties.

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- New evacuation orders have been issued in areas near the town of Oroville, after the Bear Fire exploded in size overnight.

High winds fanned flames and sent sparks flying, bringing the fire to a size of nearly 58,000 acres.

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Video into the ABC7 newsroom shows the intense conditions, with fire lines engulfing the boundaries of a roadway bridge as people raced across it to escape.

VIDEO: Bay Area shrouded in smoke as Northern California wildfires rage

From Oakland to Point Reyes, smoke enveloped the Bay Area as fires scorched Northern California.

"There was nothing I could do. I left. It was too late to leave," said one fire evacuee, who feared he would die either from the fire or smoke inhalation.

The victim, named Dennis, said the fire jumped so fast, that he was trapped along Bald Creek Rd. in Butte County, and he sought refuge in a nearby shed while inside of his truck.

"It was coming on me so fast. I had to go into a sheet metal shop on this property and everything burnt to the ground except for this shop with me in it. I was praying to God that I made it through it."

The evacuee said he was able to drive off through the shed and live to tell the tale.

The Bear Fire is part of the North Complex, which sparked last month from a lightning strike.

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Mandatory evacuations are now spread across parts of Plumas, Butte and Yuba counties.

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As if the call to evacuate wasn't scary enough, the road out was harrowing. One evacuee in Winters, Calif. recorded this as he drove through the fire while evacuating.