Detective Mark Bass - who lives in Paradise, a town of 27,000 people, about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco - said he got his family to safety and then returned to help others.
In addition, two large fires ignited in Ventura County in the Los Angeles region.
"There's nothing much left standing", said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesperson Scott Maclean.
Much of the downtown was destroyed. "The whole town is gone", Gianna Wallace, a survivor, told Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Sabalow. "It started at 10 to 20 acres when our first engines were able to see it. Due to the fluid and rapidly changing conditions, residents are urged to stay updated through official sources for changes to evacuations and road closures", said a CalFire incident report Thursday night. "A lot of roads were congested with traffic that just could not move, so we moved those into church parking lots and store parking lots where we could get them all together and have our resources there to protect them".
The Camp Fire has cut off power to roughly 34,000 customers in Butte and Plumas counties, according to a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric. All of the people were found dead in their cars, that were "overcome by the Camp Fire", the sheriff said.
"The sheriff confirmed reports that evacuees had to abandon their vehicles". "They were going off like bombs", said Karen Auday, who escaped to a nearby town.
Honea says resources are spread thin, but officials are "doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas". The message I want to get out is: "If you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", he said.
Anthony Rizzo shares Gold Glove Award with Freddie Freeman
With the win, Greinke ties Ron Guidry, Phil Niekro and Kenny Rogers for seventh all-time among pitchers to win the award. He is the first AL pitcher to win four Gold Gloves in a five-year span since Kenny Rogers won four of five from 2002-06.
Acting California Governor Gavin Newsom called a state of emergency in Butte County, north of Sacramento, after the so-called Camp Fire grew to more than 18,000 acres in just eight hours with none of it contained.
Authorities were working to evacuate residents from their homes as strong winds swept seasonal wildfires across the state, consuming more than 26 miles of territory on Thursday alone. The warning will remain in effect until Friday morning, officials said.
Massive wildfires are tearing through parts of California, destroying hundreds buildings and forcing thousands of people from their homes. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
When the order came to evacuate, it was like the entire town of 27,000 residents chose to leave at once, they said.
The previous record had been set less than a year before in another catastrophic fire that burned through more than 280,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Previous year the Tubbs Fire in nearby Napa and Sonoma counties killed 22 people. Witnesses reported seeing homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement home up in flames.
Residents of the beachside city of Malibu have been ordered to evacuate as three fast-moving wildfires raged in California on Friday morning, including one that also spurred the evacuation of 75,000 homes near a city that was still reeling from a mass shooting.