Death toll climbs as Northern California wildfire spreads

Four more people were killed in the devastating wildfire that continued to tear through a northern California county — raising the death toll to nine, authorities said Friday night.

Earlier in the day, Butte County officials announced five people who were fleeing the blaze had perished after the flames torched cars they were riding in.

The bodies of the five — who were fleeing the town of Paradise in the county about 85 miles north of Sacramento — could not be identified because they were so badly burned, authorities said.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office confirmed later Friday that there were four more deaths but did not provide any other details.

The wildfire in the county started early Thursday morning and quickly spread after winds fueled the flames.

By Friday evening, the fire had spread to 70,000 acres and was only 5 percent contained, fire officials said.

The fire reduced the town of Paradise to ashes on Thursday.

“The whole town’s on fire,” Scott Lotter, a town councilman, told the Sacramento Bee. “It’s pretty grim.”

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