OROVILLE, Calif. — Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town.

Everyone in Paradise, a community of 27,000 people about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco, was ordered to get out. The extent of injuries and damage was not immediately known. Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that two firefighters and multiple residents were injured.

Gina Oviedo described a devastating scene in which flames engulfed homes, sparked explosions and toppled utility poles.

“Things started exploding,” Oviedo said. “People started getting out of their vehicles and running.”

Authorities were working on a plan to remove patients from a hospital after rescuers had to turn back because of gridlocked traffic.

“It’s a very dangerous and very serious situation,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. “I’m driving through fire as we speak. We’re doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas.”

Shari Bernacett said her husband tried to get people to leave the Paradise mobile home park they manage and had minutes to evacuate.

He “knocked on doors, yelled and screamed” to alert as many residents as possible, Bernacett said.

“My husband tried his best to get everybody out. The whole hill’s on fire. God help us!” she said before breaking down crying. She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through flames before getting to safety, she said.

Officials were sending as many firefighters as they could, CalFire spokesman Rick Carhart said.

“Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming,” he said. “There are dozens of strike teams that we’re bringing in from all parts of the state.”

The sheriff confirmed reports that evacuees had to abandon their vehicles. He said rescuers were trying to put them in other vehicles.

“We’re working very hard to get people out. The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate,” Honea said.

“The blaze is being driven by fairly strong winds,” Carhart said. “It’s really dry and we have low humidity, and unfortunately those are great conditions for a fire to spread.”

Thick gray smoke and ash could be seen above Paradise from miles away.