Million Flee Fires; Feds Mobilize

Bush steps up to avoid Katrina repeat
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2007 4:59 AM CDT
A plane drops fire retardant on the Santiago Canyon hills Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007, in Silverado, Calif. Mandatory evacuations are in place for the canyon areas northeast of Santiago Canyon Road between...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Firefighters look for the wind to change late this afternoon, as more than 15 rampaging wildfires continue to turn swaths of Southern California into writhing walls of flames. In a bid to avoid a repeat of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, President Bush yesterday declared a federal emergency for seven counties and scheduled a visit for tomorrow,  CNN reports.

The federal mobilization comes as 1,300 homes have been reduced to ash, winds up to 100 mph continue to foil firefighters and as many as 950,000 people have fled danger areas.  "We are surrounded by fire on both sides," said one evacuee.  "It's probably the worst significant event in my career of 36 years," one San Diego fire official concluded. Gov. Schwarzenegger declared himself "heartbroken" over the devastation.