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skeeter 10-22-2007 02:25 PM

SoCal wildfires
I hope all our southern California members are safe, it's looking pretty bad down there.,2933,303881,00.html

Deadly Wildfires Force Mass Evacuations in Southern California
Monday , October 22, 2007

This is a developing story. Click "refresh" for updates.

San Diego County on Monday ordered massive evacuations using Qualcomm Stadium to house evacuees as wildfires that had already killed one remained "zero percent contained" and raging out of control.

"Listen to emergency personnel. Lives are what's more important in this particular situation. The property, you can replace it, but you can't replace the lives," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob of the second district in San Diego County, adding "the best thing that all of us, all of you can do today, is make sure you are prepared. This fire could go in any direction."

The flames threatened thousands of Southern California homes as firefighters raced to beat back the blazes that have engulfed the region. Helicopters were unable to drop water over the blazes in San Diego because of the winds.

"It’s basically zero percent contained," said Bill Metcalf, chief of the North County Fire Protection District, which is overseeing the firefighters.

City personnel in San Diego had opened Qualcomm Stadium as a shelter as well as the Del Mar Fairgrounds, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said. He asked that residents limit cell phone use as they evacuated.

In many cases, crews couldn't begin to fight the fires because they were too busy rescuing residents who refused to leave, fire officials said.

"They didn't evacuate at all, or delayed until it was too late," Metcalf said. "And those folks who are making those decisions are actually stripping fire resources."

The blaze had already set records.

"This fire will probably be the worst fire this county has ever seen," San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender said.

About a dozen blazes erupted over the weekend, fueled by strong Santa Ana winds and drought-parched land from the high desert to the Pacific Ocean. Things got worse Monday, when several new fires sprouted, adding to the 40,000 acres — or 62 square miles — that already have burned. The worst damage was in Malibu, where a church, homes and a castle were charred.

"We expect the weather to continue for another couple of days," Metcalf said.

Firefighters acknowledged they were overwhelmed.

"You do not expect something to stretch our resources to this magnitude," Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Sam Padilla said. "To try and staff something this big, you cannot predict it."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency late Sunday in seven counties. One person died in a fire near San Diego, which burned more than 14,000 acres — or about 22 square miles — about 70 miles southeast of San Diego, just north of the Mexican border town of Tecate, California Department of Forestry spokesman Matt Streck said.

Four firefighters and at least 10 other people were hospitalized, Streck said. Some of the injured were hikers, and others may be illegal immigrants.

Twenty-five structures in the suburbs around Santa Clarita were destroyed, Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Massey said. That blaze had burned about 25,000 acres.

Another blaze devoured more than 5,000 acres in northern San Diego County and forced the evacuation of the community of Ramona, which has a population of about 36,000.

Several structures were burned on the edge of town and sheriff's deputies called residents to alert them the fire was approaching the city, said San Diego sheriff's Lt. Phil Brust.

"The winds are up, it's very, very dangerous conditions," San Diego County spokeswoman Lesley Kirk said. "Fires are popping up all over the place."

Several new wildfires broke out in San Diego County early Monday, officials said, and at least seven blazes were active in the county. Kirk said fire crews were stretched thin and were anxiously awaiting reinforcements from other parts of the state.

A wildfire in Orange County that grew to 8,800 acres was believed to be arson, Orange County Fire Authority Lynnette Round spokeswoman said. It was 30 percent contained.

In Malibu, about 700 firefighters worked to protect hundreds of homes in several upscale communities nestled in the hills. About 1,500 people were evacuated and the blaze destroyed a church and several homes, one of them the landmark Castle Kashan, a stately fortress-like home with turrets and arched windows. Chunks of brick fell from the exterior of the burning building overlooking the coast.

No residents or firefighters were injured, Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman said.

The castle belonged to Lilly Lawrence, the daughter of a former Iranian oil minister. She said she was able to gather a few things before the fire engulfed her home, including some jewelry and memorabilia that included Elvis Presley's Army fatigues.

She didn't seem too worried about losing most of her belongings in the fire.

"My parents taught me not to allow my possessions to posses me," Lawrence told KABC-TV. "So, that's the story. The house is a house."

Winds carried embers across the Pacific Coast Highway, closing the popular road and setting fire to cars and trees in the parking lot of a shopping center where a supermarket, drug store and other shops were damaged.

"This fire is zero percent contained, which means we're at the mercy of the wind," acting Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich said.

In all, five homes and two commercial buildings had been confirmed lost throughout the Malibu area, Freeman said. Nine more homes were damaged, he said.

The fire is expected to burn for another two to three days, he said. Until the blaze is extinguished, "there will literally be thousands of homes that will be threatened at one time or another," he said.

The fire may have been started by downed power lines, Capt. Mike Brown said.

"This is a conflagration we knew was going to come at some point," Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said at a Malibu press conference Sunday, noting Southern California's ongoing dry spell. "We were cruising for a bruising. We are very, very lucky as we stand here tonight that the damage has been as limited as it has been."

Unlimited 10-22-2007 03:19 PM

I work in Riverside, which is right in the middle of the San Bernardino, Irvine, and No. San Diego County fires. Already today three people from San Bernardino went home because their neighborhoods were being evacuated and two from the Irvine area. The winds are howling and blowing stuff everywhere. The air outside is brown from smoke and dirt.

Tj Bunch 10-22-2007 03:28 PM

Yea we have several local Engine companys that went down to help out. At least give some of the local guys time to recoop. And the ol Santana winds aren't much help.

RedRubiTJ 10-22-2007 03:29 PM

I was working in Santa Clarita this morning and was evacuated from the business due to the fires. I've got friends and coworkers from Ventura down to San Diego County who were evacuated last night and this morning. So far all is good, but unitl the winds die down in the next couple of days we'll just have to wait and see.

skeeter 10-22-2007 03:58 PM

I've got friends and family in the Ramona area, they got hit hard a few years ago. Looks like it's there again.

MouthfulOfGrass 10-22-2007 04:09 PM

Was driving down interstate 5 yesterday through Orange County and the wind was fierce. Strong enough to blow the toyota sequoia over a foot or 2 into the next lane. Luckily the other cars were all being blown the same direction. A guy on hookup fishing forum said semi trailers were blown over on the 215, had to weave around them. Sky was very "dusty" in some areas, obviously smoky (could smell it) in others. Power was out in the house for awhile.
Crazy wind & it's supposed to be in the mid 90's tomorrow. Not good weather for containing raging fires.

OdhinnsChick 10-22-2007 04:16 PM


Unlimited 10-22-2007 05:33 PM

Union-tribune Breaking News Team
12:24 p.m. October 22, 2007

SAN DIEGO – The Witch fire, pushed by strong Santa Ana winds, roared west Monday morning across northern San Diego County, forcing an estimated quarter-million people to flee their homes.

Harris fire burning unchecked, heads for Otay Lakes and Chula Vista
S.D. school district releases all students to parents
In Rancho Santa Fe, some of America's costliest homes in jeopardy

It's one of seven fires raging across north and East County, according to Cal Fire officials. By 8 a.m., the Witch fire alone had grown to 10,000 acres.

“It's going to get worse. It's probably the worst fire this county has ever had, well worse than the Cedar fire,” said Sheriff Bill Kolender.

If those winds continue to propel the flames westward, fire officials warned, the Pacific Ocean may be the only thing that can stop it.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts put the number of evacuees at 250,000 people.

“I think there's a very good possibility it will reach the coast before it's finished,” said Bill Metcalf, chief of the North County Fire Protection District.

In all, the fires have killed one person and injured at least 20 others as of midday Monday, authorities said.

The county Medical Examiner's Office identified the dead man as Thomas Varshock, 52, of Potrero. His body was found shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday.

Officials at UCSD Medical Center confirmed that it also was treating Varshock's 15-year-old son, who suffered burns on more than 50 percent of his body.

UCSD also is handling 12 other fire-related patients:

four firefighters – three in critical condition and one in fair condition

eight civilians – four in critical condition, four in fair condition and one in good condition

The patients suffered burns and/or respiratory problems due to smoke inhalation.

Among the few pieces of good news was that the military was joining the firefighting effort.

The Navy authorized two of its SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from North Island Naval Air Station to join the seven firefighting helicopters already making water drops on the fire, Cal Fire officials said.

Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order for Rancho Santa Fe after the fire jumped I-15, burned past Lake Hodges at its northern and southern ends, then jumped Del Dios Highway near the Lake Hodges dam and continued west.

There have been structure losses in northern Poway, overlooking Lake Hodges. Homes also have been lost in Rancho Bernardo and Escondido, Cal Fire battalion chief Kelly Zombro said.

The south end of the fire is in the Barona area.

Residents from Ramona all the way to North County's coastline were forced to flee. There were reports in Rancho Bernardo of people trapped in their homes or cars, said San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Maurice Luque.

With the situation changing from minute to minute, exact casualty figures, acreage burned and numbers of structures destroyed and damage were hard to obtain.

Qualcomm Stadium was opened as an evacuation center Monday morning and officials opened the Del Mar Fairgrounds as an evacuation point.

At the stadium, city officials put out a call for volunteers, water, blankets and food as workers prepared to receive as many as 100,000 evacuees.

Interstate 15 has been closed between state Routes 78 and 56. With highways already clogged with evacuees and emergency vehicles, authorities asked residents to avoid all non-essential trips, and to stay home from work if possible.

Authorities have ordered evacuations in Rancho Bernardo and Poway as the fires surged west. In Poway, Palomar-Pomerado Hospital was being evacuated. Westview High School, which had been opened as an evacuation center for area residents, was forced to close by the approaching flames, and the evacuees there were sent to Qualcomm.

The city of Poway has declared a local emergency and activated the local Emergency Operations Center. Emergency information is available online at

An emergency shelter has been established at the Poway Community Center at 13094 Civic Center Drive. Large animals can be brought to the Poway Valley Riders Association Arena, also known as the Poway Rodeo Grounds, at the corner of Tierra Bonita Road and Poway Valley Road.

At the Wild Animal Park, a spokesman said some animals were being moved overnight into the park's hospital for their protection.

Just to the north of the park, six homes in southern Escondido have been destroyed, two more damaged and still more remain threatened, said Escondido Fire Department spokeswoman Carol Rea.

Meanwhile, the Harris fire in East County had scorched another 14,000 acres and is still out of control, burning toward Honey Springs Road. No firm estimates were available, but a Cal Fire dispatcher said 1,500 homes were considered threatened.

Vector6 10-22-2007 07:10 PM

pray for rain.............

woody_k 10-22-2007 07:21 PM

3 town are under mandatory evacuation from the Lake Arrowhead fire. I was working in the smoke all day. We were "called" in for extra patrol from the looters.

I am a Deputy Sheriff in San Bernardino County and normally work in Court Services. But when something like this happens everyone is called in to help. Some of us had to open the evacuation center and others were used to open the command post.

OdhinnsChick 10-22-2007 07:28 PM

PEOPLE ARE LOOTING?! God, you would think Americans would have more honor... :/

woody_k 10-22-2007 10:28 PM


Originally Posted by OdhinnsChick (Post 151585)
PEOPLE ARE LOOTING?! God, you would think Americans would have more honor... :/

No not yet. That's what were there for. The CHP closed the road really quickly. The only people allowed up were residence and then we add extra patrols.

Same thing happened in 2003 and no looting took place save for one or 2 incidences.

jjseel 10-22-2007 11:05 PM

Y'all be carefull out there!

amy 10-22-2007 11:25 PM

All of you, please, be careful.

Can we maybe get a SoCal role call, just to let the rest of us know you're all ok?

tiny terror 10-22-2007 11:56 PM

A-Ok here. :D

AzTJ 10-23-2007 12:22 AM


Originally Posted by tiny terror (Post 151690)
A-Ok here. :D

I was just gonna ask, "Where is Tiny?" :wavey: Good every one is doing ok. You guys always seem to get it the worst.

Unlimited 10-23-2007 09:24 AM

I could see the fires burning in Arrowhead this morning from over 50 miles away while I was on the freeway. Over 130 houses lost up there so far. San Diego County has reported over 500,000 evacuated (homes or people? depends on what station you are listening to.) Seems that the majority of Riverside county is safe for now. I hope everyone else is safe as well.

If you've been watching the news, you've seen pictures of the DC10 fire bomber in action. It flew over my office yesterday. Very cool:

1BLKJP 10-23-2007 06:06 PM

Yeah, I've seen the winds have been pretty ferocious today again. The San Diego County Fire Chief was quoted as saying that "This will not end until it reaches the ocean or the winds stop" However if the Santa Ana's die down and the ocean breezes come back I'd think that could cause troube all over again.

Looks like Lake Arrowhead is getting hit pretty hard and the Ranch and Magic are in danger of merging on the LA/Ventura County lines.

Good thing though I've only read of 2 instances of Looting and both of them were caught and arrested.

4point 10-23-2007 06:17 PM

Take a look at the smoke trail. If you have java hit the animation link."

Joe Dirt 10-23-2007 09:03 PM

I work in Riverside too. It was raining ash this morning as I drove home. The winds aren't helping. It's been so long without much rain we could all see this coming.

JeepGuyLJ 10-23-2007 09:15 PM

Im 20 mins away form santa monica and canyon country were the fire is and the skies over our house are full of gray smoke.

Unlimited 10-24-2007 10:06 AM

This morning's news....
October 24, 2007

Man arrested on suspicion of arson

A Hesperia man was arrested late Tuesday on suspicion of Arson, after police said he was seen trying to spark a fire near Highway 173.

John Alfred Rund, 48, has been arrested on suspicion of arson, said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Beavers.

Victorville-based California Highway Patrol officers were on patrol along Highway 173 when a brush fire started near Arrowhead Lake Road, CHP Officer Mario Lopez said in a report.

Several people trying to stomp out the fire said one man was seen squatting near the fire before speeding away on a Honda motorcycle, Lopez said.

A San Bernardino County fire engine later reported the motorcycle was heading toward the road closure at Highway 138 and Highway 173. Police followed the motorcycle to a home on Highway 173.

Rund was arrested at the home, Beavers said.

—John Asbury

Posted by at 7:01 AM

I think this guy should be taken out to one of the actively burning areas and chained to a tree..... and doused with kerosene..... and have it televised on national TV. Give him his 15 minutes of fame and then do the same with anyone else caught starting fires.

They say over half of the fires burning down here right now were set intentionally. F'n bastards!

RatherBNarizona 10-24-2007 05:11 PM

AZ just send a bunch of firefighters to help ya guys out over there
hopefully you'll get in contained soon!

ffyez88 10-24-2007 05:17 PM


Originally Posted by Tj Bunch (Post 151491)
Yea we have several local Engine companys that went down to help out. At least give some of the local guys time to recoop. And the ol Santana winds aren't much help.

They just did an all page here in N.C. for all F.D.'s. We volunteered but our department is running short so we can't go. It sucks wish we could be there lending a hand.

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