Only a day after it began, the fire near the town of Paradise had grown to almost 110 square miles (285 square kilometers).
The fire began around 6:33 a.m. on November 8 and swept through the area at a speed of about one football field every three seconds, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
In northern California, the Camp Fire had more than tripled in size to 70,000 acres (2838 hectares) and was 5% contained, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) officials said.
Much of the downtown was destroyed.
"Right now, Mother Nature is in charge", Cal Fire spokesman Bryce Bennett told The Sacramento Bee.
The fire has exploded to over 20,000 acres and there is no containment.
The gusts blowing down the mountain slopes not only fan flames but also dry out the land surface, lowering relative humidity levels to 10 percent - creating tinderbox conditions for the spread of fire.
"The whole town is burning", Bob Van Camp, a Paradise resident who escaped on his motorbike, told local TV channel Action News Now.
More than 20,000 people had been evacuated the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
When Nate Rodriguez of Paradise woke up Thursday morning he thought the red glow in the sky was the sunrise. A member of the town, Brynn Parrott Chatfield, shared a video of the fire while driving in a vehicle on Facebook.
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The town of Chico, population 93,000, could be next in the path of the wildfire, which was forecast to be driven westward overnight by 35-mile-per hour (56 km-per-hour) winds, said Butte County Fire Chief Darren Read. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate, ' Honea said".
The so-called Camp Fire, which started on Thursday, has torched dozens of homes and put some 15,000 structures under threat as a state of emergency was declared in Butte County. Dry, windy conditions are making it hard to contain the fire. "We're very grateful for our partnerships with allied agencies, Cal Fire, our agency, the town staff worked as quickly as possible to evacuate, using our evacuation plans". "Once it got going it picked up very rapidly".
Tanah Clunies-Ross woke up in the dark to what sounded like lumps of coal raining down her Northern California home. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
The California Highway Patrol reversed traffic lanes along Interstates 99 and 149 throughout the day to allow evacuees to flee the 'Camp Fire'.
The paper looked like it was from a book, she said.
Voluntary evacuations of 75,000 homes had already been called for because of the Woolsey fire that affected parts of Thousand Oaks, the site of a shooting massacre this week.
The fire, which began early yesterday, was the fiercest of several wind-driven blazes across California, during what has been one of the worst years for wildfires in the state.
PG&E says the planned outages would also affect portions Lake, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Sonoma and Yuba counties. Television reports showed several homes on fire in the Oak Park community, while authorities shut down the 101 Freeway in both directions at Camarillo Springs Road.