A satellite view of Paradise, California, on November 8, 2018.

  • The Camp Fire is now the most destructive and deadliest California wildfire in the state's history.
  • It scorched the entire town of Paradise, which was home to about 27,000 people.
  • Satellites orbiting the Earth took pictures of Paradise and the nearby town of Magalia before the fire hit and while the area burned.

Paradise used to be a small town in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada mountains with a population of about 27,000 people. That is, until Friday.

Within about 24 hours after the Camp Fire broke out, practically all of Paradise had burned to the ground, along with much of a nearby town called Magalia.

Below are two satellite views of Paradise and Magalia, where about 11,000 people were living. The towns are located about 160km north of Sacramento (California's capital city). The northern flank of Paradise is shown on the bottom-left of each picture, and Magalia at the centre.

The first image, in which everything appears normal, was taken by the commercial satellite imaging company DigitalGlobe on September 10. The second picture was taken from space on Friday, right as the Camp Fire was tearing through the region. (Click and drag the slide bar up and down to compare the two photos.)

"We started with nothing once, and we can do it again," Paradise resident Eleanor Southwick, 78, told INSIDER's Kelly McLaughlin on Friday. "We still have our family and friends and that's the thing that's important."

Some who lived in the area hope to return and rebuild, but other families have not been so lucky.

So far the wildfire has killed at least 42 people, some of them inside or near cars as they tried to flee.

The sheriff's office in Butte County (in which Magalia and Paradise are located) reportedly estimated on Monday that 228 people from the area are still missing.

The Camp Fire began mid-week as a relatively small blaze of about 5 hectares. But 80km/h gusts of wind in unseasonably warm, dry weather blew its hot embers far and wide. At one point, the fire was expanding at a rate of about 80 football fields per minute.

By Tuesday morning, the wildfire had gobbled up more than 50,500ha of land, more than 6,500 homes, and 260 businesses.

This makes the Camp Fire the most destructive and most deadly wildfire California's recorded history. 

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