Wind-blown fires destroy hundreds of Calif. homes

Natural Disasters Posted on

Walls of towering flames pushed by Santa Ana wind raged through Southern California hills early Sunday after destroying hundreds of homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee.

Evacuees could only watch the wildfires from a distance and wait to learn the fate of their homes and possessions.

"I'm hoping my house will not burn down, but if it burns down that's my life, right? I've got to start from scratch again," said Jack Chen, 56, of Yorba Linda as he sat on a cot in a gym at Katella High School in Anaheim.

Fires in Los Angeles County, to the east in Riverside and Orange counties, and to the northwest in Santa Barbara County had blackened nearly 29 square miles and destroyed more than 800 mobile homes, houses and apartments since Thursday night. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared states of emergency in all three counties.

Forecasts indicated the Santa Ana wind would abate by Sunday afternoon, but humidity would remain very low.

The most threatening blaze early Sunday had charred more than 11 square miles in Orange and Riverside counties since erupting Saturday and shooting through subdivisions entwined with wilderness parklands. Containment was just 5 percent.

More than 60 homes burned in the communities of Corona, Yorba Linda and the Anaheim Hills area of Anaheim. In addition, 50 units of one apartment complex burned, Orange County fire spokeswoman Angela Garbiso said.

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