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paradise fire
November 21, 2018

The Camp Fire swept through Paradise, California, on Nov. 8, becoming the deadliest fire in state history, and now there are questions surrounding the city's decision to narrow the main evacuation route from four lanes to two.

In 2008, a fire ravaged parts of Paradise, destroying 200 homes. There are only four routes out of Paradise, and as everyone in town tried to evacuate, the streets became clogged with cars and thousands were trapped. It took three hours for people to get out of Paradise, and a grand jury later told city officials they needed to create additional evacuation routes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

To protect pedestrians, the city decided in 2014 that Skyway, the main road going through town, should be narrowed from four lanes to two, and records show two other roads also lost lanes. The city was warned that by narrowing the roads, in case of a wildfire or other emergency, it would be hard for people to get out quickly; on Nov. 8, with thousands of people trying to evacuate, some were killed when their cars were engulfed by flames.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jody Jones told the Times the evacuation started at 7:46 a.m and was finished by 3 p.m., and she doesn't think "there's any town in the world prepared with a roadway infrastructure that could evacuate their entire town all at once. They're just not built to do that." At least 81 people were killed in the fire, and nearly 700 remain missing. Catherine Garcia

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