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Oct-23-2007 11:04printcommentsVideo

California Fires Evacuate Hundreds of Thousands (VIDEO)

This is an update on the progress of efforts to suppress the wildfires that are burning out of control in Southern California.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was briefed and held a Press Conference on the Canyon Fire and other Los Angeles area fires
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was briefed and held a Press Conference on the Canyon Fire and other Los Angeles area fires. Other fires in the Los Angeles area include the Ranch Fire, Session Fire, Buckweed Fire and the October Incident in Los Angeles County; Sedgwick Fire in Santa Barbara County; and the Nightsky Incident in Ventura County.

(LOS ANGELES) - Fire safety experts in California say as many as 500,000 residents will have to evacuate before a series of gust-driven fire complete their devastating path across the state.

The situation remains critical, fire officials say the 12 uncontained large fires have burned more than 335,000 acres. With evacuations underway, hundreds of homes and commercial buildings throughout the area have been damaged or destroyed. Hot, dry and gusty Santa Ana winds continue to be a challenge as firefighters work to contain these blazes.

The National Interagency Coordination Center says dry and windy conditions will continue in Southern California through Wednesday.

"A strong Santa Ana wind event will continue to impact the southern California mountains, valleys and coastal areas through Wednesday, with strongest winds tapering off by Tuesday afternoon."

Dry windy conditions are expected to develop over eastern and southern New Mexico into northwest Texas, and much of the East will see precipitation through Wednesday.

Governor Responds to Declaration

A Presidential State of Emergency has now been established over the Southern California Wildfires. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commented on the federal efforts.

"I thank President Bush for granting my request to declare a federal state of emergency in California. The people of California need all the help they can get at this tragic time and this action will allow our citizens to get the assistance they need."

The Governor sent a letter to President Bush requesting direct federal assistance, debris removal and emergency protective measures, including: firefighting, evacuation operations, and sheltering of displaced people and animals for the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura due to the Southern California wildfires.

Here is the latest status update for the Southern California fires from the National Fire Information Center:

Witch (San Diego County): 145,000 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is one mile east of Ramona. Hundreds of homes and commercial building have been damaged or destroyed. Currently, 5,000 residences and 1,500 commercial properties are threatened in San Diego, Poway, Ramona, Escondido, Lakeside, Valley Center, San Marcos, and Rancho Santa Fe. Wildcat Canyon is closed. Highway 67 is closed from Poway to Ramona. For information, call (619) 590-3160.

Ranch (Angeles National Forest): 54,518 acres at 10 percent contained. This fire is seven miles north of Castaic. Evacuations continue in Chiquito Canyon, Hasley Canyon, Val Verde, Hopper Canyon and toward Filmore. Currently, 500 residences and 50 commercial properties are threatened. Three homes and four outbuildings have been destroyed. For information, call 626-574-5208 or visit the web site: Buckweed (Los Angeles County): 37,812 acres at 27 percent contained. This fire is 14 miles west of Palmdale. A mandatory evacuation of 15,000 residents remains in effect. More than 55,000 homes in the communities of Santa Clarita, Castaic, Leona Valley, Green Valley, Acton, Agua Dulce, Bouquet Reservoir and Mint Canyon are threatened. For information, call (323) 881-2411.

Harris (San Diego County): 70,000 acres at five percent contained. This fire is two miles southeast of Potrero. At least 200 homes have been destroyed in this fire - more than 50 were in Deerhorn Valley and Honey Springs. Citizens are sheltered at Fire Station 66. Two thousand homes and 500 commercial properties are threatened. More than 3,000 people have been evacuated in the area of Harris Ranch Road and Otay Lake Road. For information, call (619) 590-3160.

Santiago (Orange County): 7,865 acres at 30 percent contained. This fire is 12 miles east of Santa Ana. Highway 241 is closed from Santiago Canyon to Highway 133. Portola Parkway and portions of Jamboree Road in Irvine are closed. 3,500 homes and 150 commercial properties are threatened in the communities of Foothill Ranch, Lake Forest, Modjeska, and Silverado Canyon. For information, call 714-573-6200.

Canyon (Los Angeles County): 3,800 acres at eight percent contained. This fire is two miles north of Malibu. Mandatory evacuations were implemented in the following areas: Monte Nido, Malibu Colony, Malibu Rd., Sweetwater Canyon, Carbon Canyon, Carbon Mesa, Rambla Pacifica, Big Rock, Topanga Canyon, Powder Ranch Rd. and Monte Vista Dr. Currently, 600 residences, 200 commercial buildings, and 100 outbuildings are threatened. Residents from 500 homes have been evacuated. For information, call (323) 881-2411. NEW Rice (Los Angles County FD): 6,100 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is seven miles east of Fallbrook. Right now, 2,500 homes are threatened. The town of Fallbrook has been evacuated. Camp Pendleton and Oceanside are threatened. Hundreds of homes and commercial buildings have been damaged or destroyed. For information, call (619) 590-3160. NEW Magic (Los Angeles County FD): 1,200 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is three miles west of Santa Clarita. Nine hundred homes are threatened in the Santa Clarita and Simi Valley areas. Transportation and oil infrastructres are threatened. For information, call (323) 881-2411.

NEW Poomacha (Monte Vista Unit, Cal Fire): 1,000 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is seven miles east of Pauma Valley. Evacuations are in effect along the Highway 76 Corridor. For information, call (619) 590-3160.

Coronado Hills (San Diego County): 300 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is two miles south of San Marcos. No other information was provided. McCoy (Cleveland National Forest): 300 acres at 50 percent contained. This fire is four miles southwest of Julian. For information, call (619) 590-3160. Grass Valley (San Bernardino National Forest): 300 acres at an unknown percent contained. This fire is north of Lake Arrowhead. For information, call 909-383-5688 or visit the web site:

Roca (Riverside County, California Department of Forestry): This fire was contained at 269 acres.

Sedgewick (Los Padres National Forest): This fire was contained at 710 acres.



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Neal Feldman October 23, 2007 10:26 pm (Pacific time)

How much of this was arson and how much natural? Honestly between the fires, the earthquakes and the smog I cannot see why so many are willing to pay so much to live there. Rents are 3-4 times what they are in Salem... for what? Glad I moved! Sorry for those who haven't (or have been forced to). And yeah, jokes not real cool. Ah well...

Juan H. October 23, 2007 5:14 pm (Pacific time)

Firefighters help us... We want this Wildfire be done as soon as possible... :(

Anonymous October 23, 2007 5:07 pm (Pacific time)

Since the last fire 4 years ago,the cedar fire, what has been done to help prevent or minimize these devastating results, i.e. clearing burnable material from any area of this county or state.

Ken Grandlund October 23, 2007 3:54 pm (Pacific time)

From someone in Oceanside-

Oceanside is smoky now, but not really in immediate danger at this time. There are no fires within the city limits, and the nearest fire (The Rice Fire) is being held back about 12 miles east of the city limits.

There are at least two fires burning now on Camp Pendleton, but these are in the outlying areas of the base and do not at this time threaten any buildings. There are voluntary evacuations in 4-5 base neighborhoods.

The Witch Fire, the biggest, in central SD County, is taking the same path as the Cedar Fire in 2003, more or less. But this fire is 10 times bigger in area than the Cedar. There have been over 515,000 evacuations (people, not homes) in San Diego County since Sunday, about 1000 buildings destroyed countywide. This fire is still moving west.

The Harris Fire (South County) grew much larger overnight and is moving west towards the ocean.

A new fire today in the rural east county area near Palomar Mountain grew quickly to at least 25,000 acres in just a few hours.

That's the situation now in San Diego County.

Again, Oceanside is not in imminent danger, I-5 is open and moving very well in both directions, so there is no need to bring in any ships.

Ken: we appreciate this on scene update!

Danny October 23, 2007 2:23 pm (Pacific time)

I am in San Fernando Valley. But have friends from Bulton to San Diego. And know people in Oceanside where Camp Penelton is a Marine base. I do NOT appreciate the jokes. Doubt if you would be laughing should this happen to you or your family. I would like to see more technology for the fire fighters. Radios and GPS for the guys fighting the fires. A blog site that has up to the minute NASA satellite information. Computer models to predict the rapid movement of the fires. 747 converted to water dropping. Use what technology we have and make it better. Now excuse me while I study my fire insurance policy.

Joe Somebody October 23, 2007 1:09 pm (Pacific time)

he better start swimming lol

Candi Phillips October 23, 2007 11:50 am (Pacific time)

We just heard from my brother in Oceanside. He says they are now surrounded by fire with nowhere to go but ocean. Any chance of getting boats?

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