The entire town had been evacuated earlier, with traffic backing up throughout the area as residents try to get to safety.
Shari Bernacett said her husband tried to get people to leave the Paradise mobile home park they manage. The she reconsidered, thinking: "I'm really scared, this is terrifying, I can't breathe, I can't see and maybe I should humble myself and get in this woman's vehicle".
Percifield left in his pickup truck for an emergency gathering place outside of town, finding himself on an empty road with the fire a swelling inferno on both sides of the road around him.
There are evacuation orders for Paradise, Magalia, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley.
The wind-driven blaze also spread to the west and reached the edge of Chico, a city of 90,000 people.
"When this fire started this morning wind speeds were 35 to 40 miles per hour gusts", Cal Fire spokesperson Lynne Tolmachoff said. The conditions there are bone dry and erratic winds with speeds ranging from 20 to 55 miles per hour are rapidly fanning the flames.
"We were engulfed in flames", Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said.
McLean estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town of 27,000 residents about 180 miles (290 kilometres) northeast of San Francisco, where residents scrambled to flee.
A fire official says the town of Paradise has been "pretty much" destroyed.
"Basically, we haven't had rain since last May or before that", said Read, the fire chief.
The brush fire was first reported around 6:30 AM Thursday morning and burned roughly 18,000 acres by midday Thursday.
The flames swept through Paradise, which has about 26,000 residents, by about 8 a.m. Thursday and left a path of destruction in their wake.
Malibu has about 13,000 residents and lies along 21 miles (34km) of coast at the southern foot of the mountain range.
"Imminent threat!" the department said in its warning.
Fire officials said they expect those two fires to burn all the way to the ocean.
Strong blustery winds are combining with dry conditions, after weeks without rain and low humidity at the height of the wildfire season in north California.
The fire in Paradise burned fast, reports CBS News' David Begnaud.
The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday. People in some neighborhoods have been told to get out.
"Had he not put out that fire, I would not have made it to the vehicle", she said. "People were abandoning their cars and running with their babies and kids".
An used vehicle dealership is seen engulfed in flames during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018.
Dramatic footage shows flames closing in around the highways out of town and thick smoke hanging in the sky, obscuring the horizon.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said Friday firefighters are focused on saving lives and are still rescuing people from fires.
On social media many people posted anxious messages about elderly relatives who lived near the fire and were missing, urging authorities to assist them in evacuating.
Chico police officer John Barker and his partner evacuated several seniors from an apartment complex. By 8:20 a.m., the house was burning. At least 70,000 acres have been burned in the Camp Fire thus far, and it is only 5 percent contained.
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