California fires

18 Stories

Wildfire Suspect Charged in Heart Attack 'Murders'

Unusual case links arson to deaths

(Newser) - California officials have taken the unusual step of charging a wildfire arson suspect with murder in the death of 5 people who suffered heart attacks escaping the flames. Prosecutors intend to prove the stress of the fire caused the deaths in the massive 2003 San Bernardino blaze. The groundbreaking case... More »

SoCal Residents Return to Charred Homes

(Newser) - Residents of Yorba Linda, Calif. sifted through their charred belongings today amid 113 houses razed by the so-called "Freeway Complex Fire," the Los Angeles Times reports. Meanwhile fire officials shuttled residents into a mobile home park near the Sylmar fire, which has destroyed 477 houses and 10 commercial... More »

Arson Suspected in Montecito Blaze

"All accidental causes" eliminated in Santa Barbara wildfire

(Newser) - Officials suspect arson in one of the three major fires currently blazing in California, CNN reports. Investigators have eliminated “all accidental causes” of the fire that has charred 1,940 acres and 210 homes in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara since Thursday, which officials now believe was sparked... More »

Wind Dies Down in SoCal

As gusts slow, firefighters get reprieve, take preventative measures

(Newser) - The winds have let up in Southern California,  giving some relief to firefighters battling wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to flee. Gusts in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles were down to 39mph, much lower than the roughly 80mph winds that fanned... More »

Huge LA Fire Roars Into Orange County

Worst blaze in nearly 50 years is only 10 percent contained

(Newser) - The worst LA wildfire in nearly 50 years has forced 10,000 people to flee and charred more than 500 homes in Sylmar, Calif., the LA Times and LA Daily News report. Flames also swept into Orange County today, burning at least 40 more homes and surrounding a high school.... More »

80 Homes Burn in Hills Over Santa Barbara

Blaze overwhelms firefighters in enclave of the rich and famous

(Newser) - A wildfire ripped through the wealthy enclave of Montecito in Santa Barbara County last night, destroying some 80 homes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Firefighters were overwhelmed as the wind-driven brushfire spread out of control. Much of the area, home to dozens of celebrities, was evacuated as the blazes spread... More »

Firefighters Face 'Critical' Day

They hope to contain Goleta blaze; Big Sur still surly

(Newser) - Today will be “critical” for battling the Goleta fire, one of more than 330 still raging across California, a fire commander told the Los Angeles Times. The blaze has already scorched 8,300 acres, sparked more than 2,500 evacuations, and razed four buildings—but it is now 24%... More »

SoCal Braces for Fierce Storm

Canyon residents ordered to leave for fear of mudslides

(Newser) - A storm that battered Northern California and knocked out power for more a million people today is drenching Los Angeles tonight, sparking evacuation calls for an estimated 3,000 people, the Los Angeles Times reports. Torrential rain is expected and residents of canyon areas scorched by the October wildfires have... More »

Boy Playing With Matches Started Calif. Fire

Buckweed fire burned more than 38,000 acres

(Newser) - Playing with matches went horribly wrong for a Southern California boy who has admitted to inadvertently starting one of last week's sprawling fires. The Buckweed fire, which forced more than 15,000 to evacuate and burned 63 structures, started October 21; the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had identified the... More »

Fires Largely Under Control, SoCal Moves On, Cautiously

Winds could still flare up, officials warn

(Newser) - Firefighters have contained most of Southern California's ferocious wildfires, and shelters emptied rapidly as evacuation orders were lifted and residents began pondering the next step. The fires had destroyed 2,813 structures and more than a half-million acres as of last night, reports the LA Times, and will go down... More »

OC Fire Dept. Was Ill-Equipped

Lack of equipment, manpower allowed Santiago fire to grow into monster

(Newser) - Orange County firefighters might have contained the fire that ripped through Irvine, the county fire chief says, if only there were more of them. Orange County was short on manpower and fire engines even before it sent crews to help contain Malibu’s fires. With state reinforcements busy elsewhere, and... More »

The Lucky Find Homes, but No Water, Power

Returning SoCal residents face weeks of hardships

(Newser) - Thousands of Southern California residents have returned to their homes—those fortunate enough to find them standing—to find no electricity and no drinking water, with town reservoirs drained to fight fires, and air choked with smoke and ash. The threat of changing weather also looms: the hot winds that... More »

Red Tape Grounded Copters in California Fires

Residents pick up the pieces after blaze

(Newser) - Firefighting helicopters sat idle as wildfires broke out across California, an AP investigation concludes, thanks to a web of bureaucracy. By the time Navy, Marine, and National Guard aircraft got clearance, up to a day after blazes started, it was already too dangerous to fly. Others were missing crucial equipment... More »

California Fire Death Toll Hits 12

Six more found dead; 60 injured

(Newser) - Four charred bodies found in the mountains near the Mexican border and two others discovered in a house in San Diego County boosted the death toll of the California wildfires to 12, with 60 others injured. Authorities confirmed yesterday that the 25,000-acre Santiago Fire in Orange County was arson,... More »

Bush, in California, Promises Aid

President tours affected areas by helicopter

(Newser) - “There will be help for the people of California,” said President Bush today, promising federal aid while on a tour of areas devastated by days of wildfires. Bush, accompanied by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other politicians, had already declared seven counties in Southern California to be disaster areas,... More »

2 Bodies Found as Planes Begin to Fight Fires

Dying winds aid fight from air as evacuees start to head back

(Newser) - Firefighters found two bodies in a burned-out San Diego County home even as dying winds today allowed airplanes to take up the fight against California wildfires, and some evacuees began trickling back. A fire captain called the drone of the aircraft "the sound of joy," reports CNN. "... More »

California Dreaming at Fire Refugee Shelter

A cot at Qualcomm comes with massage

(Newser) - As California burns, 9,000 residents have evacuated to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. But for those who remember the horror of the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane  Katrina, this refuge is stunningly well-appointed, and very California. Benefits include Starbucks coffee, free massages and acupuncture, and a constant stream of... More »

Firefighters Taming Blazes

Abating winds aided progress; one arson suspect killed, another arrested

(Newser) - Diminishing winds today allowed firefighters to make broad progress against the California wildfires that have chased a million people from their homes, while police shot to death one arson suspect and detained another. Major fires still burned, mainly in Orange and San Diego counties, but firefighters' optimism was growing, the... More »

18 Stories