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Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire Forces 250,000 To Evacuate

Fires Scorch More Than 40,000 Acres

POSTED: 6:34 am PDT October 21, 2007
UPDATED: 10:25 am PDT October 22, 2007
MALIBU, Calif. -- Wildfires fanned by fierce desert winds forced the evacuations of nearly 250,000 people Monday in San Diego County, including hundreds who were being moved by school bus and ambulance from a hospital and nursing homes.

More than a dozen wildfires had engulfed Southern California, killing at least one person, injuring dozens more and threatening scores of structures.
A San Diego-area fire official said that the raging wildfires got "dramatically worse" overnight.

"[The situation] is worse than many of us could've imagined," said Bill Metcalf, chief of the North County Fire Protection District. "It was a long night. A dangerous night."

Metcalf said that one of the major issues that firefighters are dealing with is that residents did not listen to early evacuation orders.

"One of issues is that we're not able to do any suppression because resources are being used to do rescues," he said. "People didn't evacuate at all or didn't until it was too late."

Another fire in the area prompted officials to order the town of Ramona to be evacuated earlier Monday. Officials said several structures on the edge of town have been burned.

One person died in a fire near San Diego. Four firefighters and at least 10 other people were hospitalized.
There are nearly a dozen wildfires scorching parts of Southern California.

Firefighters in San Diego County are battling about a dozen fires that have burned more than 40,000 acres. Firefighters said Sunday night that they are overwhelmed.

In Malibu, about 700 firefighters have been working to protect hundreds of luxury homes in upscale communities.

"To try and staff something this big, you cannot predict it," Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Sam Padilla said.

Among the structures destroyed by the fire are the landmark Castle Kashan, a fortress-like home with turrets and arched windows. The owner of the home had time to gather some items -- including Elvis Presley's Army fatigues -- before flames engulfed her home.
It's believed the fire was sparked by a downed power line.

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