At least nine people have died and tens of thousands have been evacuated as fierce wildfires sweep across California.

All those killed were found in the same area of the town of Paradise, in the north of the state. At least four of them are believed to have perished in their vehicles as they tried to escape the flames.

Another 35 people have been reported missing and three firefighters were injured.

Officials said the town’s entire population of 26,000 was ordered to leave.

California fire captain Scott McLean said earlier that pretty much the entire community of Paradise is destroyed, adding that the fire had grown to almost 110 square miles – four times its original size.

With fires also raging further south, 157,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Two separate fires are threatening the celebrity enclave of Malibu and the city of Thousand Oaks, still reeling from the recent mass shooting.

Those who live there have been warned of an imminent threat to their safety, with thousands of people being urged to flee however they can.

It is critical that residents pay close attention to evacuation orders, the Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted.

This is a very dangerous wind driven fire.

US media reports that schools have also been closed and animals have been moved out of the LA Zoo in Griffith Park.

No deaths have been reported in Malibu and Thousand Oaks

Rapper Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian West are among those in Malibu who have taken to social media to confirm that they are safe.

Actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, tweeted that the fire is dangerously close to our home but that he and his family are safe. He lauded the work of the fire service.

The first of the fires broke out on Thursday, northwest of Los Angeles, and roared south, with an estimated 75,000 homes evacuated in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County.

Malibu has about 13,000 residents – including a number of celebrities – and many have shared pictures of busy roads as scores of cars take to the roads in a bid to escape.

The LA County Sheriff’s Office said it was receiving many emergency phone calls from people who need our help to evacuate and urged motorists in the area to be aware of emergency vehicles.

Strong blustery winds combined with dry conditions have helped the blaze spread, after weeks without rain and low humidity at the height of the wildfire season in north California.

In the San Francisco Bay area, some 180 miles away from Paradise, locals have been encouraged to stay indoors due to worsening air quality caused by smoke from the fire.

The air has become hazy and the smell of smoke is overwhelming, prompting officials to declare it unhealthy.

They are advising older people and children to stay indoors.

President Donald Trump has issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
(c) Sky News 2018: At least nine die as California wildfires spread to Malibu and Thousand Oaks