Wildfire Sweeps Across Catalina
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2007 6:30 AM CDT
This image provided by the Catalina Islander shows a wind-driven wildfire spread over 100 acres on rugged Santa Catalina Island, about 20 miles off Southern California, Thursday, May 10, 2007. Sixty firefighters...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – A fast-moving blaze has scorched hundreds of acres of Santa Catalina, a resort island 22 miles off the California coast. The LA Times reports thousands of tourists and residents of the historic city of Avalon were fleeing the oncoming flames yesterday. "I hope they can hold it off," a city official said bleakly.

Shelters have been set up on the mainland for refugees from the picturesque vacation city, which has already lost homes and businesses. "This is the biggest fire I've ever seen this close to town," said one firefighter. "It just doesn't seem real." The exact origin of the inferno is unknown, but this year has been one of the driest on record on Catalina.