Some of the worst wildfires in California history have killed at least 31 people and left thousands of others homeless.

In Paradise, a town of 27,000 people roughly 350 kilometres north of San Francisco, more than 6,700 structures have been destroyed by the flames.

Jon Tripp’s house was one of them. He got a first look at his smoldering property on Sunday after a CTV News crew was allowed into the town to film.

“I lived there since I was nine years old with my folks,” he told CTV’s Melanie Nagy. “That’s 47 years for me.”

Tripp, like so many others, left in a panic. “I’m worried about my neighbours, Ed and Andrea,” he said. “Hopefully they weren’t home.”

“I didn’t have time,” he added. “The power was out and I couldn’t see anything.”

The flames ripped also through the hospital in Paradise while nurse Nichole Jolly was still inside. She barely escaped.

“The back of my pants were on fire,” she said. Jolly was saved by firefighters.

As people searched for their loved ones, the local county sheriff and coroner made a grim request. They are asking family members of those reported missing to submit DNA samples, in order to identify the anticipated remains.

The Paradise fire is one of three burning across more than 1,000 square kilometres of the Golden State. It has killed at least 29 people. Two others were found dead in Malibu, just west of Los Angeles.

As of Sunday evening, the Paradise fire was considered only 25 per cent contained and it could get worse. Cal Fire spokesman Bill Murphy warned that gusty winds overnight and on Monday morning may fan the flames.

With a report from CTV’s Melanie Nagy in Paradise, Calif., and files from The Canadian Press