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Rindy 
Posted: 23-Oct-2007, 07:46 PM
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I think this fire in California is so terrible. I know it will effect us all in some way and I am just hoping none of you out there are in in this awful fire. I am wishing everyone to be safe.

Slainte


By GILLIAN FLACCUS

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Faced with unrelenting winds whipping wildfires into a frenzy across Southern California, firefighters all but conceded defeat Tuesday to an unstoppable force that has already chased nearly a million people away.

Unless the shrieking Santa Ana winds subside, and that's not expected for at least another day, fire crews say they can do little more than try to wait it out and react - tamping out spot fires and chasing ribbons of airborne embers to keep new fires from flaring.

"If it's this big and blowing with as much wind as it's got, it'll go all the way to the ocean before it stops," said San Diego Fire Capt. Kirk Humphries. "We can save some stuff but we can't stop it."

Tentacles of unpredictable, shifting flame have burned across nearly 600 square miles, killing two people, destroying more than 1,300 homes and prompting one of the biggest evacuations in California history, from north of Los Angeles, through San Diego to the Mexican border.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the flames were threatening 68,000 more homes.

"We have had an unfortunate situation that we've had three things come together: very dry areas, very hot weather and then a lot of wind," Schwarzenegger said. "And so this makes the perfect storm for a fire."

In Rancho Santa Fe, a suburb north of San Diego, houses burned just yards from where fire crews fought to contain flames engulfing other properties. In the mountain community of Lake Arrowhead, cabins and vacation homes went up in flames with no fire crews in sight.

"These winds are so strong, we're not trying to fight this fire," said firefighter Jim Gelrud, an engineer from Vista, Calif. "We're just trying to save the buildings."

More than a dozen wildfires blowing across Southern California since Sunday have killed two people and forced the evacuation of more than 350,000 houses, encompassing nearly 950,000 people based on average household size. More than 40 people have been injured, including 16 firefighters.


President Bush, who planned to visit the region Thursday, declared a federal emergency for seven counties, a move that will speed disaster-relief efforts.

The sweeping devastation was reminiscent of blazes that tore through Southern California four years ago, killing 22 and destroying 3,640 homes.

The ferocity of the Santa Ana winds in 2003 forced crews to discard their traditional strategy and focus on keeping up with the fire and putting out spot blazes that threatened homes.

Fire crews were especially concerned about dense eucalyptus groves in Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe, fearing the highly flammable trees could turn neighborhoods prized for their secluded serenity into potential tinderboxes.

The usual tactic is to surround a fire on two sides and try to choke it off. But with fires whipped by gusts that have surpassed 100 mph, that strategy doesn't work because embers can be swept miles ahead of the fire's front line. In those cases, crews must keep 10 to 30 feet back from the flames or risk their own lives, Los Angeles County firefighter Daryl Parish said.


Any flame longer than 8 feet is considered unstoppable, and even water and fire retardant will evaporate before they reach the ground, said Gordon Schmidt, a retired U.S. Forest Service deputy director of fire management.

"In these situations, the strategy generally is to fall back," he said. "You pick and choose your priorities in terms of what you can protect. Instead of trying to stop the fire, you try to prevent it from burning resources."

In the suburbs north of San Diego, firefighters did just that as fingers of flame pulsed across a 10-lane freeway and raced up a hill on the opposite side in just seconds. The fire engulfed white-washed homes at the top of the ridge.

Groves of eucalyptus trees exploded in the heat in one ritzy cul-de-sac in Rancho Santa Fe, sending off a scattered popping that sounded like machine gun fire.

Firefighters parked their rigs in the driveways of the most threatened homes and hosed down fences and open space around homes as a blood-red sun set over a sky choked with smoke and falling ash.


Firefighters battling two fast-moving blazes in Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, were also taxed by steep terrain, winding roads and a forest packed with dead or dying trees.

More than 200 homes burned in Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs, fire officials said.

At least three times in the past two days, fire crews have been forced to "pull off, and wait for things to calm down" because of danger, said San Bernardino National Forest Ranger Kurt Winchester.

"In a lot of places, you just have to back off and let the fire go," he said. "There's nothing we can do."

In Rancho Santa Fe, neighbors tried to protect a friend's home with a garden hose Monday night as flames raced up a ridge directly behind the house. Yards away, an engine crew kept watch as another home, already fully engulfed, burned to the ground.


"We told the firemen about (this house) and we put out a few hot spots," said friend Gary Rich. "They told us once they put out that house, they'd come over here."

But, Rich said, encroaching flames were making him nervous and he might leave before then.

Fighting a gusty blaze also puts the firefighters in harm's way. At least twice in the last two days, firefighters have had to unfurl their emergency fire shelters - small fire-resistant tents to shield them when they can't escape a fire.

Weather conditions only grew worse, with temperatures across Southern California about 10 degrees above average. Temperatures were in the 90s by mid-afternoon and wind gusts up to 60 mph were expected in mountains and canyons.

In the San Diego suburb of Del Dios, fire completely destroyed one home but seemed to touch other items at random. Two lawn chairs and an umbrella were left in a burnt, melted heap on the patio. But behind the house, near a murky brown swimming pool, two chaise lounges and a four-foot-tall decorative fountain survived unscathed.

J.C. Playford, an evacuee from the nearby community of Ramona, surveyed the damage and wondered whether his own home was still standing.

"I've got two reports, one person told me it's gone, and one person said it's still there," he said, "So I have no idea."


Associated Press writers Allison Hoffman contributed to this story from San Diego; Martha Mendoza reported from Lake Arrowhead; and Jacob Adelman contributed from Santa Clarita.
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ogdenmusic 
Posted: 23-Oct-2007, 10:23 PM
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The California fires are causing major havoc. I work for a major airline and have received several calls of families having to evacuate or cancel their travel plans due to the fires. Not many of our flights have been canceled to these areas but I'm sure that could change.

Best wishes and prayers to those effected by the fires.


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LadyOfAvalon 
Posted: 25-Oct-2007, 07:36 PM
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Wind and fire are the most destructive elements when combine together.
My prayers and thoughts are for the family who lost everything and the ones who lost their lives.
Thank God for the ones who got away safely and with time will be able to start over.


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stevenpd 
Posted: 25-Oct-2007, 10:53 PM
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Although the fires where close, the most that I have had to deal with so far is the smoke. The Santiago Canyon fire was too close for comfort. We were watching it from my brother's roof. Believe me, it was something to see. My family was not affected, thank God. But others were not so fortunate. We almost lost our church. The Santiago Canyon fire started within a couple of miles of the church. Even after four days, the almost full moon was an eerie "red". The are photos on the internet, taken by a satellite, showing huge smoke trails.

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The first one started up in Malibu. Then another in Valencia (Magic Mountain), northern San Diego, Lake Arrowhead, and then here in Orange County. At one point there were up to 15 different fires. Some of the fires combined into one.

At this point the devastation is continuing with the worst occurring in northern San Diego. Reports have the total evacuation between 500.000 to 1 million people. About 1,200 homes and 138 businesses have been destroyed so far. There are 3 deaths directly attributable to fire. Some fires are growing and others are under control.

The news is mixed. The good part is that southern California pulled itself together as a community. Neighbor helping neighbor. Sometimes is was almost like a simple family reunion picnic. The bad part is that the criminal element was alive and well. A recent report had illegal immigrants stealing supplies at the Qualcomm stadium for evacuees for sale elsewhere. Evidently one guy was caught before he could do anything. A police chase ensued, ending in his death because he was ramming the police cars with his vehicle. Another was arrested after being spotted in brush where he had no business being. The Sanitago Canyon fire is thought to have been started by someone with specific fire fighting knowledge. Reward money is now up to $250,000.00 for information leading to an arrest.

Political fighting has started, even before everything has been put out. Pathetic.


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haynes9 
Posted: 26-Oct-2007, 12:39 AM
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There will be time for moronic politicians to try and make some personal gain out of this some other time. Right now, resources need to be given to those fighting the fires and those who have lost so much. Our prayers are with all of you affected. Take care!


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Rindy 
Posted: 26-Oct-2007, 11:29 AM
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I am glad your ok stevenpd. I can't imagine the panic that must go on. I know what your talking about with the smoke.
We suffer here from fires usually every year and if it isn't the smoke from fireplaces in the winter its forest fires in the summer. On a positive note smoke makes for some pretty sunsets though.
Thank you for posting those photos.

My prayers are going out to all of you.

Slainte
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coastman 
Posted: 26-Oct-2007, 01:46 PM
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Southern Baptist Disaster Relief responds to California wildfires


Two California feeding units will be operational beginning October 25.
One California shower unit is operational at Qualcomm Stadium.
First Baptist Church Newhall, Newhall, Calif., is serving as a fixed feeding site (250 meals per day currently). A California shower unit is also on site.
The California command post is being set up at California Baptist University with a seven-member incident command team.
Don Hargis, California state disaster relief director
Jim Parrish (Northwest), incident commander
Paul Palmer (Utah/Idaho), logistics officer
Tommie Palmer (Utah/Idaho), administrative officer
Paul Henry (Northwest)
Jimmy Creekmur (Arizona)
Linda Creekmur (Arizona)
Arizona and Nevada have been asked to provide replacement teams of 25 members for the California feeding units beginning 10/30/07.
Arizona feeding and shower units are on standby for possible deployment.
American Red Cross has activated 75 emergency response vehicles to deliver meals prepared by Southern Baptist feeding units.
North American Mission Board's (NAMB) Disaster Operation Center (DOC) opened 10/23/07 and is currently staffed by four NAMB staff and six volunteers.
Mickey Caison, DOC manager
Read today's Baptist Press article about the response.
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stevenpd 
Posted: 26-Oct-2007, 10:36 PM
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts!

San Diego is the hardest hit. More than a thousand homes are gone and they have been finding bodies in the ashes of homes. i think the death toll is up around 12 now.

The Santiago Canyon fire hi heading east, but the winds are starting to get the fire to double back on itself.

It is nerve racking but all seems to be coming under some semblence of control.
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