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California man haunted by friend's final scream as blaze responsible for dozens of deaths engulfed vehicle

A Northern California man who led a caravan of vehicles that was overcome by flames from a wildfire says he saw his friend die.

Greg Woodcox told The Associated Press today that he heard his friend scream as the heat blew out windows. Four other people in the vehicles died.

They were among at least 29 people who have lost their lives in a wildfire that decimated the town of Paradise.

Woodcox said he was too exhausted to talk more by phone.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, the 58-year-old Woodcox said he was in a Jeep ahead of the other vehicles and ran when the flames overtook them.

He said he followed a fox to a path down a steep embankment, and he survived by submerging himself in a stream for nearly an hour.

Statewide the deathtoll stands at 31, including two victims in Southern California, from wildfires raging at both ends of the state.

A bag containing human remains lies on the ground as officials continue to search at a burned out home at the Camp Fire. Source: Associated Press

Crews are continuing to search for bodies in the smoldering ruins, with nearly 230 people unaccounted for.

More than 8,000 firefighters battled the wildfires that scorched at least 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometres) of the state, with the flames feeding on dry brush and driven by winds that had a blowtorch effect.

The raging wildfire has now reached a grim milestone – the deadliest in the state's history. Source: 1 NEWS