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The CA wild fires


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Who has read about this or heard about it in the news? I heard about it tongith, and it's just......just...sad.:bawl:

Has anyone heard any stories about it, or an ideas about what caused it or anything? I didn't hear that much, just that it was in California.

[quote]SAN DIEGO - The hot Santa Ana wind driving wildfires across parts of Southern California eased Monday but officials warned that there was still a threat from the flames that had devoured entire neighborhoods and killed at least 13 people.

Gov. Gray Davis announced he was activating the National Guard, calling on more resources from neighboring states and predicted the cost of the fires would be in the billions. More than 900 homes had been destroyed and an estimated 30,000 others were still in danger, officials said.

The blazes scattered from the Mexican border to the suburbs of Los Angeles had triggered a harrowing flight to safety for thousands of residents, along with hospital patients and prison inmates.

"I was grabbing wet towels. Fire was at our feet. It was blazing over our heads and burning everywhere," said Lisza Pontes, 43, recounting her Sunday morning escape from a fire in San Diego County.

The death toll was the state's worst since the 1991 fire in the Oakland hills of Alameda County that killed 25 and destroyed more than 3,200 homes and apartments.

Many of those who died had waited until the last minute to flee, Sheriff Bill Kolender said Monday. "When you are asked to leave, do it immediately. Do not wait," he said at a news conference.

Airline travel was disrupted, major highways were blocked and some schools were closed. Monday night's pro football game between the Chargers and Dolphins was shifted from San Diego to Arizona.

At least one of the fires was believed to be a result of arson. "That's an evil move. What kind of fun is that, to put so many lives in danger," said Steven Herrera, 41, of Pinecrest.

Authorities said the fierce Santa Ana wind appeared to be easing. The National Weather Service canceled wind advisories in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and Los Angeles Fire Chief William Bamattre said fire crews were taking advantage of the change to go on the attack.

However, gusts of up to 45 mph still were possible in canyons. San Diego City Fire Chief Jeff Bowman said he was concerned that three fires that incinerated 460 homes and 150,000 acres in the surrounding county would merge into a super fire.

The Santa Ana wind season usually stretches from September through February, with October often the strongest. The rainy season could start any time but heavier rainfall is not likely until January.

The blazes had charred more than 400,000 acres, or 625 square miles _ more than half the size of the state of Rhode Island _ of dense, dry brush and trees. More than 7,000 firefighters battled the spreading flames.

To the south, two deaths were blamed on forest fires near Mexico's port city of Ensenada, about 50 miles south of Tijuana, authorities said Monday. Officials said 10 houses were destroyed and 290 people were evacuated.

In San Bernardino County, a blaze called the Old Fire, which had destroyed more than 400 homes, torched 25 more when it jumped a road and moved into the heavily forested town of Crestline, fire information officer Candace Vialpando of the U.S. Forest Service said Monday.

Shortly before 6 a.m. Monday, an 80,000-acre blaze in suburban Simi Valley, 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles, jumped a highway and came within yards of several homes before firefighters began to get the upper hand. Schools in the city of 110,000 people were closed Monday because of the fire, which already had destroyed six homes.

Nine people had been killed by the 100,000-acre Cedar Fire in San Diego County. About 260 homes, ranging from modest to expensive, were destroyed.

The San Diego County victims included two people who died inside their car as they apparently tried to escape the flames.

That fire was started Saturday near the mountain town of Julian when a lost hunter set a signal fire, authorities said. The hunter may face charges.

Another fire near San Diego killed two people, authorities said. And two men collapsed and died in San Bernardino County, one while evacuating and the other while watching his home burn, the county coroner said.

Around the congested suburbs of San Bernardino, a city of about 200,000 some 50 miles east of Los Angeles, one flank of a nearly 80,000-acre fire burned through four towns while the other flank destroyed more than 450 homes. Two fires _ the Old Fire and the Grand Prix _ had merged on Sunday, creating a flame front 35 to 40 miles long.

Authorities sought two men for investigation of arson and possibly murder in connection with the San Bernardino fires. Three looters were arrested, police said.

Fire forced the evacuation of a Federal Aviation Administration control center in San Diego, disrupting air travel across the nation. Some airlines canceled flights into the region.

The National Football League moved Monday night's football game between the Chargers and Miami Dolphins from Qualcomm Stadium, which is being used as an evacuation center, to Tempe, Ariz.


Associated Press writer Ryan Pearson contributed to this story from San Bernardino County.

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