PARADISE (CBS13/AP) – A California National Guard official says 100 military police are headed to Northern California to help evacuate people from a wildfire.

Maj. Gen. David Baldwin says other military personnel are studying satellite imagery to assess the scope of the damage and map the fire.

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The ferocious fire near the Northern California town of Paradise has grown to nearly 110 square miles (285 square kilometers).

Smoke from the fire has made the air unhealthy in the San Francisco Bay Area and much of the Sacramento Valley.

The director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services says fires across California have forced 157,000 people from their homes. Officials say the fire has claimed lives, but the number of deaths is not known at this time.

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Residents of the town of Paradise told harrowing tales Friday of a slow motion escape from a fire so close they could feel it inside their vehicles as they sat stuck in terrifying gridlock.

They say it was like the entire town of 27,000 residents decide to leave at once.

Fire surrounded the evacuation route and drivers panicked, some crashing and others abandoning their vehicles to try their luck on foot.

Many of the rural residents have propane tanks on their property and the tanks were exploding.

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Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.