Powerful winds caused the Camp Fire to spread quickly, filling the sky with toxic smoke that could be seen from San Francisco.
Fire officials initially ordred the evacuation of all 13,000 residents of the community, which stretches 21 miles along the ocean, but later scaled it back to the western two-thirds of the city.
Late Thursday, more than 2,200 firefighters were battling the flames and the fire remains uncontained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
Hundreds of miles south, authorities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties have ordered the evacuation of 75,000 homes, as a wildfire bears down on the beach town of Malibu.
Another blaze just west of that area, dubbed the Hill Fire, topped 10,000 acres on Thursday.
The fire in Paradise burned fast, reports CBS News' David Begnaud. It burned in the same path as the 2013 Springs Fire that torched 24,000 acres before running into the Pacific Ocean.
A wildfire that moved so fast that firefighters couldn't hope to stop it quadrupled in size Friday after destroying several thousand buildings and leveling much of a Northern California town of almost 30,000 people, authorities said.
Several active fires are burning in parts of Northern California, and further south, a number of fires are centered in the Los Angeles area, according to a California wildfire map.
"I feel very vulnerable posting this but I feel I should", Chatfield wrote on Facebook.
Her family was among the 40,000 residents forced to evacuate in Butte County, California, after the fire broke out early Thursday, "growing uncontrollably" at a rate of about 80 football fields per minute.
Fire crews were especially concerned with Highway 101 in the Agoura area Friday morning, where flames began jumping from the north side to the south side of the freeway about 5:30 a.m., KTLA reported.
The two blazes are among 16 now active fires in California. One evacuation center was even forced to close down as the flames spread. The north and southbound lanes of the 101 freeway near Santa Rosa Road.
Cal Fire's Bill Murphy says winds have calmed down in the valley but that there are "shifting, erratic winds" with speeds of up to 45mph (72 km/h) along ridge tops.
The city tweeted that the evacuation affects areas between the Ventura county line and Malibu Canyon.
Malibu itself - a city of about 12,000 people and known for beachside homes owned by celebrities and millionaires - was put under an evacuation order Friday morning.