California Fires: Entire Town Destroyed As Death Toll Rises To 25

The death toll from wildfires tearing through both ends of California has risen to at least 25.

In Northern California, authorities said up to 23 people have died and 35 are still missing after one wildfire consumed the town of Paradise.

According to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea, an 14 additional bodies were found on Saturday, some in cars and houses, three days after the fire broke out.

A second wildfire that tore through Malibu mansions and working-class suburban homes in southern California has killed two more people and more than doubled in size.

Buildings are consumed by flames during the Camp Fire, as it burns out of control through Paradise in Butte County, California. Image: AAP
Paradise reduced to rubble

An additional search and rescue team has been brought in to search for remains, in what has become the third-deadliest in California history.

Residents who stayed behind to try to save their property or who managed to get back to their neighbourhoods in the town of Paradise found cars incinerated and homes reduced to rubble.

People surveyed the damage and struggled to cope with what they had lost.

Krystin Harvey, left, comforts her daughter, Araya Cipollini, at the remains of their home burned in the Camp Fire. Image: AAP

Entire neighbourhoods were levelled and the business district was destroyed by a blaze that threatened to explode again with the same fury that largely incinerated the foothill town.

The flames razed more than 6700 buildings, almost all of them homes, making it California's most destructive wildfire since record-keeping began.

Sheriff's deputies recovered human remains from at least five homes as they went house-to-house in Paradise looking for the missing.

More firefighters headed to the area on Saturday, with wind gusts of up to 80km/h expected, raising the risk of conditions similar to those when the fire started on Thursday.

The blaze grew to 400square kilometres but crews made gains and it was partially contained, officials said.

A rotated Shortwave Infrared image of the deadly Camp Fire near Paradise, California. Image: via AAP

People sidestepped metal that melted off cars and Jet-Skis and donned masks as they surveyed ravaged neighbourhoods despite an evacuation order for all of Paradise, a town of 27,000 founded in the 1800s.

Some cried when they saw nothing was left.

Abandoned, charred vehicles cluttered the main thoroughfare, evidence of the panicked evacuation as the wildfire tore through Thursday.

Five of the dead panicked when they couldn't escape by car because their route was cut off by a wall of fire, said Gabriel Fallon, who rode out the blaze with his parents to care for the horses, cows and livestock on their farm in Paradise.

Smoke from the wildfires fills the air in Malibu. Image: AAP

The group turned the other way and dashed down the paved street until it turned into dirt and passed the Fallons' farm, he said.

One of the drivers stopped and asked Fallon if the direction they were going would lead them to safety. Fallon said he shook his head as the fire roared closer.

The drivers parked at the end of the road. On Saturday, the charred shells of the five cars remained where they had been parked.

A home burns as the Camp Fire moves through the area in Paradise, California. Image: Getty

Fallon went back to his property, where he, and his parents and their animals weathered the fire with a garden hose. The fire consumed their home, but left the barn intact.

State officials put the total number of people forced from their homes by California's fires at more than 200,000. Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu that is home to some of Hollywood's biggest stars .

President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration providing federal funding for fires on both ends of the state. He later threatened to withhold payments to California, claiming its forest management is "so poor".

Trump tweeted on Saturday that "there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California".

He said "billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom responded on Twitter that this was "not a time for partisanship".

"This is a time for co-ordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up," he said.

Trump took a more empathetic tone later in the day, tweeting sympathies for firefighters, people who have fled their homes and the families of those killed by the flames.