Thousands flee California wildfire as homes go up in flames

Updated: 2015-09-14 13:53


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Thousands flee California wildfire as homes go up in flames

A dead horse lies beside Highway 175 after the Valley Fire raged through Middletown, California September 13, 2015. The rapidly spreading wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings as it roared through the northern California village of Middletown and several nearby communities, chasing thousands of residents from their homes, fire officials said on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]


Laura Streblow, 27, an evacuee who fled Hidden Valley Lake with her boyfriend on Saturday night and was tracking developments on social media and through friends, told Reuters she had heard that "Middletown is basically gone."

"I saw flames all around ... The wind was insane. I have never been so scared," she said.

Mark Donpineo, 54, said he and two friends were trapped by the fire for four hours Saturday evening at a golf course in Hidden Valley Lake, taking cover in a culvert until the flames had passed.

"We got some towels, wetted them down and basically saw the fire coming. You could hear explosions of propane tanks, the ridge was totally on fire, trees were blowing up," he said.

Meanwhile, Cal Fire reported that 81 homes and 51 outbuildings had been lost in the four-day-old Butte Fire, which has charred more than 65,000 acres in the mountains east of Sacramento but was 20 percent contained.

As of Sunday, firefighters were battling nearly three dozen large blazes or clusters of fires in California and six other Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.