Raging wildfires in Southern California have destroyed an estimated 1,300 homes and businesses and forced as many as a half-million people to evacuate their homes, state and local officials said Tuesday. Large tracts of brushland and suburbs have been blackened by more than a dozen separate fires.
Hot, gusting winds made the advancing flames nearly impossible for firefighters to control, officials said. The winds were expected to keep blowing through Tuesday, and perhaps longer.
The worst conditions continued to be in San Diego County, where large sections were under mandatory evacuation orders. County officials said Tuesday that "about 1,000" structures had been destroyed in the area since the fires started Sunday. About 300 houses and businesses were destroyed elsewhere, according the governor's Office of Emergency Management.
President George W. Bush declared Southern California a disaster area, and federal troops started to join the evacuation and firefighting effort. About 800 marines from Camp Pendleton, which is north of San Diego, were made available while six specially modified C-130 cargo aircraft were being flown to California to help with firefighting.
Full Story: International Herald Tribune
San Bernardino Fire Capt. Grant Hubbell tackles a burning house
in Running Springs near Lake Arrowhead.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)October 23, 2007
More Evacuations and New Fires
High temperatures and fierce winds returned to Southern California this morning, complicating the efforts to control a string of wildfires that grew overnight, prompting new evacuations. San Diego County authorities estimated 1,000 homes had burned there, and a second person was reported to have died, this one in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles.
Fires sprang up in San Diego and Los Angeles counties, and new evacuations were ordered in Orange and San Diego counties. Weary firefighters fought major blazes that have burned since the weekend in seven counties, with containment days away at the soonest.
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Estimates of the monetary losses start in the tens of millions, and the cost of fighting the fires was expected to at least match that number. Help was on the way after the White House declared a state of emergency, clearing the way for additional federal aid.
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Flames regionwide crossed class lines as easily as the arid terrain, destroying homes from the beach enclave of Malibu to the vacation retreats around Lake Arrowhead, south through Orange and San Diego counties with its pricey communities of Del Mar and Solana Beach, to Mexico. The conflagrations were on the level of four years ago, when some 3,600 homes were destroyed and about 22 people died.(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)October 23, 2007
Full story: LA Times
Please keep the residents of Southern California (as well as those who suffer and risk the loss of life and limb everyday all over the world) in your duas. Recommended duas for this crisis in particular:Allaahumma 'asqinaa ghaythan mugheethan maree'an
maree'an, naafi'an ghayra dhaarrin, 'aajilan ghayra 'aajilin.
(O Allah, shower upon us abundant rain,
beneficial not harmful, swiftly and not delayed.)Allaahumma ‘aghithnaa, Allaahumma ‘aghithnaa,
(O Allah, send us rain. O Allah, send us rain.
O Allah, send us rain.)
Allaahum-masqi ‘ibaadaka, wa bahaa ‘imaka,
wanshur rahmataka, wa ‘ahyi baladakal-mayyita.
(O Allah, give water to Your slaves, and Your livestock,
and spread Your mercy, and revive Your dead land.)