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.

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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. (Read more wildfires stories.)

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