10,000 homes threatened by fires

Wildfires force thousands from their homes, as responders provide aid to survivors

BY MONICA OLIVAS | LOS ANGELES | September 2, 2009

A California wildfire burning within sight of this neighborhood has forced residents to evacuate.

Growing wildfires in California and Utah have forced thousands of people to evacuate and are threatening at least 10,000 homes.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in four counties and the Salvation Army and other disaster response organizations are providing aid to survivors.

The Station Fire is raging 20 miles north of Los Angeles in the Angeles National Forest. It has burned more than 140,000 acres, destroyed 53 structures and is threatening 10,000 more residences.

Thousands of residents are under evacuation orders but officials at California Fire and Forestry are not sure exactly how many residences are currently evacuated because evacuation orders keep changing as the fire moves and grows.

The blaze started on August 26. High heat and low humidity have helped the fire to grow and made it hard for firefighters to contain.

The counties in a state of emergency are Placer, Monterey, Los Angeles and Mariposa Counties. The Salvation Army has been providing assistance with food, water, clothing, emotional and spiritual support.

The Oak Glen Fire in San Bernardino County has burned more than 1,000 acres. Thousands of homes were threatened Monday night, forcing evacuations as firefighters estimated the fire is 75 percent contained.

Many residents could see the smoke and flames from their yards and said they were ready to pack up and evacuate at any moment.

Schools in the area were closed today due to smoky conditions.

The Big Meadow Fire in the central-western part of the state is raging in Yosemite National Park. It has been burning since August 26th. The fire was originally set as a prescribed fire-prevention fire, but quickly grew out of control and went beyond its planned boundaries.

In addition to the land and structure damage, two lives were lost in the fires. Two Los Angeles area firefighters died Sunday when their vehicle rolled down the hill where they were working.

And fires aren’t just burning in California.

The Mill Flat Fire in Utah has been burning since July 25th, destroying three homes, eight other structures and charred more than 11,000 acres of land. Although some area residents were asked to evacuate Sunday, fire officials said everyone has returned home even though it may be two weeks before the fire is completely contained.

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