‘Terrifying’ tornados of flame burn California city

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire that roared with little warning into a Northern California city claimed two lives as thousands of people scrambled to escape before the walls of flames descended from forested hills onto their neighborhoods, officials said Friday.

Residents who gathered their belongings in haste described a chaotic and congested getaway as the embers blew up to a mile ahead of flames and the fire leaped across the wide Sacramento River and torched subdivisions in Redding, a city of 92,000 about 100 miles south of the Oregon border.

“I’ve never experienced something so terrifying in my life,” said Liz Williams, who loaded up two kids in her car and then found herself locked in bumper-to-bumper traffic with neighbors trying to retreat from Lake Redding Estates. She eventually jumped the curb onto the sidewalk and “booked it.”

“I didn’t know if the fire was just going to jump out behind a bush and grab me and suck me in,” Williams said. “I wanted out of here.”

The blaze leveled at least 125 homes, leaving neighborhoods smoldering and 37,000 people under evacuation orders. Redding police chief Roger Moore was among those who lost their homes, the Los Angeles Times reports.