The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Apocalyptic images show the unfathomable devastation caused by California’s deadly Camp Fire

A vintage car rests among debris in Paradise, Calif. (Noah Berger/AP)

The worst wildfire California has ever seen has destroyed the once-lush forest town of Paradise, leaving an unfathomable trail of death and destruction in its wake.

By Wednesday evening, 56 people had been confirmed killed by the Camp Fire, making it the deadliest wildfire in state history. Dozens of people are still missing, so authorities expect that the death toll will continue to rise. The fire also destroyed nearly 7,000 structures, most of them homes. No California wildfire has ever done more damage.

The Camp Fire started on Nov. 8 near Pulga, a small community surrounded by the Plumas National Forest. High winds and dry conditions sent the flames raging through Paradise, a city of 27,000 nearly 90 miles north of Sacramento.

Now, the city is in ruins, leaving most residents who survived without homes and businesses, a community that has all but disappeared.

One fire official said it resembled “Armageddon."

A resident said the devastation “looked like Iraq.”

“Ninety-five percent of the town is gone,” Paradise council member Michael Zuccolillo told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The remaining 5 percent of buildings are barely standing. I felt like I was living in a bad dream. It was unrecognizable. I had to keep asking, ‘Where are we?’ All the landmarks are gone. Block by block, nothing. Anybody who had a house in Paradise probably doesn’t anymore.”

Caught in the inferno: How the Camp Fire overwhelmed Paradise

The Camp Fire in Northern California has claimed at least 71 lives as of Nov. 16, making it the deadliest wildfire ever in the state. (Video: Blair Guild, Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)

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Death toll rises to 42 in California’s Camp Fire, making it the deadliest wildfire ever in the state