500,000 Flee So Cal Firestorm
Powerful Santa Ana gusts drive wildfires; more than 800 buildings destroyed
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2007 4:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – High winds and hotter temperatures are forecast for Southern California today, frustrating firefighters struggling to contain the runaway blazes that have forced more than half a million people from their homes and consumed almost 900 buildings in the last two days. At least a dozen fires are still torching tinder-dry hillsides from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, reports the Los Angeles Times. The worst damage is around San Diego and Lake Arrowhead.

Fires are moving so quickly some hotels serving as emergency shelters had to be evacuated. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in seven counties and redeployed National Guard troops from border duty to help more than 5,000 firefighters.  "It looked like the end of the world," Mitch Mendler, a San Diego firefighter, told the AP.