Tuesday, November 13, 2018

California wildfires: Paradise destruction is as complete as Mosul or Raqqa

Dozens of people have died in the fire

Suddenly the sky turns yellow - you don't expect it.

The bright Californian sunshine dims and huge clouds of smoke envelope the landscape, burnt black by wildfires that have brought death and destruction on an unprecedented scale.

From miles out, passing through this scarred landscape, you know that what happened in the northern town of Paradise was bad.

Entire valleys of huge trees have been reduced to a smouldering, smoking, choking, chaotic mess.
The road winding its way through the canyon was the escape route for thousands. People drove through it as flames shot hundreds of feet into the air around them.
Not all made it out.

The fire was swept on by 50mph winds
Image: The flames were swept on by 50mph winds
Abandoned burnt out cars have been pushed to the side of the road by the emergency services.
They line the road into Paradise. They are the first tangible indicator of just how terrible the escape from this doomed town must have been.

Entire properties have been reduced to rubble
Image: Entire properties have been reduced to rubble
I have seen catastrophic destruction many times, but I didn't expect this in the US.
What happened in Paradise is quite incredible. It is not vaguely reminiscent of a war zone - it is exactly the same.
The destruction is as complete as it is in the Iraqi city of Mosul or the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Shopping centres, big buildings, have been utterly destroyed. They are barely standing. The heat and intensity of the fires is impossible to quantify.
Nothing is left and it is the same everywhere you look.


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