Flames burn inside a van as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 8.
Noah Berger—AP/Shutterstock

This Is What California's Terrifying Wildfires Look Like After Leaving 5 Dead and Entire Towns Destroyed

November 9, 2018

Images of billowing black smoke and homes set ablaze show the size and strength of three massive wildfires burning across California. Together, the Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires have burned 86,000 acres and killed at least five people—and are continuing to spread.

The town of Paradise, Calif was taken by surprise when the Camp Fire spread rapidly between Thursday and Friday, consuming 70,000 acres of land by Friday morning and forcing the town’s 26,000 residents to evacuate. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or Cal Fire, 2,000 structures have been destroyed and 15,000 more are in danger as strong winds carry the blaze toward the city of Chico.

Outside Los Angeles, the Woolsey and Hill fires threaten densely populated Ventura and Los Angeles counties. So far, 75,000 homes have been ordered to evacuate, including affluent areas of Malibu and Calabasas. News of the fire spread quickly as several celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Alyssa Milano, announced on social media saying they were forced to leave their homes. The Woolsey fire has also endangered the town of Thousand Oaks, which is still recovering after a gunman opened fire at a country bar Wednesday night, killing 12 people.

As thousands of firefighters continue to battle the blazes, photographers have set out to capture scenes of destruction, including Josh Edelson, a freelance photographer who has been covering fires for 10 years. Edelson spoke with TIME back in August after covering the destructive Carr Fire, remarking on the particularly intense fires 2018 has seen.

“It’s hotter, it’s drier, and the fires are way more aggressive and active than anything we’ve seen at this level of frequency,” he said.

2018 has been a particularly bad year for California in regard to wildfires. The Mendocino Complex Fire, which burned more than 450,000 acres in July, was the largest recorded wildfire in the state’s history.

An American flag is seen at an engulfed car dealership during the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 8.
Stephen Lam—Reuters
Flames consume a home as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 8.
Noah Berger—AP/Shutterstock
Nurse Cassie Lerossignol hugs a coworker as the Feather River Hospital burns while the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 8.
Noah Berger—AP/Shutterstock
A home is overshadowed by towering smoke plumes as the Camp fire races through town in Paradise, Calif. on Nov. 8.
Josh Edelson—AFP/Getty Images
Burned vehicles during the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. on Nov. 8.
Scott Strazzante—San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
Local law enforcement standby to give mandatory evacuation orders to residents in Thousand Oaks, Calif. as the Wooolsey fire burns over 8,000 acres on Nov. 8.
Christian Monterrosa—Sipa USA
Hillery Johnson stands with her horse Augie, after she lost everything except the clothes on her back and her horse, watches as the Camp Fire burns out of control through Paradise, Calif. on Nov. 8.
Peter Dasilva—EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
The unidentified driver who narrowly survived after a large tree fell on to the road and cracked the windshield during the Camp Fire, as it burned out of control through Paradise, Calif. on Nov. 8.
Peter Dasilva—EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A fireman runs to set up a hoseline to try and extinguish the flame of the Woolsey Fire in Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Nov. 8.
Christian Monterrosa—Sipa USA
A fire fighter stands at the ready to protect a building across the street, as the Camp Fire burned out of control through Paradise, fueled by high winds in Butte County, Calif., on Nov. 8, 2018.
Peter Dasilva—EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

 

Write to Kim Bubello at kim.bubello@time.com and Wilder Davies at wilder.davies@time.com.