Here's what California's wildfires look like from space

Five people have died in Northern California after flames engulfed their vehicles as they tried to flee Paradise, a mountain town north of Sacramento mostly destroyed by one of three wildfires raging across the state, authorities said on Friday.

"It's a worst-case scenario", Bass said.

"This was a rapidly moving fire", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told the Chico Enterprise-Record. "Regrettably, not everybody made it out".

People reported much of the community of 30,000 people has gone up in flames, including homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement centre. "We appreciate your work and could not be more grateful".

In Southern California, two separate fires have consumed about 18,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Flames also caused the closure of the Los Angeles Zoo in the Griffith Park area, and the evacuation of its animals, before firefighters had mostly contained the fire.

The wind-whipped Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties doubled in size overnight, but fire officials were hoping to take advantage of calmer conditions Saturday to make progress on corralling the fast-moving blaze.

The Woolsey Fire, which erupted Thursday afternoon in Woolsey Canyon east of Simi Valley, almost doubled to around 70,000 acres with no containment, Cal Fire said Saturday morning.

The latest tweets from Trump, who is now in France, came hours after he threatened to withhold federal payments, accusing the state of mishandling the forests. "Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!" he added.

One social media user from Calabasas shared shocking footage of what he referred to as a "fire tornado", writing: "This legitimately feels like biblical levels of destruction". Officials in the state have countered that climate change is the culprit. In recent days, warm, dry winds have swept Southern California, which has seen just one rainstorm in the past several months.

Finally, he decided to make a run for it, hopping in his vehicle and driving home through flames that lapped at the Pacific Coast Highway.

The flames descended on Paradise so quickly that many people were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.

"There was really no firefight involved", Captain Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, explaining that crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people get out alive.

The Ventura County Fire Department on Friday morning estimated that the blaze had burned 6,100 acres, a smaller number than a Thursday afternoon estimate of 8,000 to 10,000 acres.

There's no word on what sparked the fires Thursday.

The Woosley Fire burns in Malibu, California, on Friday.

Teachers were told by emergency workers to forgo seat-belt laws as they piled 200 or so students into their personal vehicles. Celebrity website TMZ reported that the Malibu ridge home of Caitlyn Jenner, America's best-known transgender person, was destroyed by the flames on Friday.

Scores of houses from ranch homes to celebrities' mansions were burned down by a pair of wildfires which burned in famously ritzy coastal spots such as Malibu, where celebrities Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian West, Guillermo del Toro and Martin Sheen were among those forced out of their homes amid a citywide evacuation order.

The mayor of Thousand Oaks, where the mass shooting took place, says that three-quarters of his city is under fire evacuation orders.

Vanessa Coleman

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