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Fires Threaten Hundreds of Homes Near Los Angeles - 2002-09-26

Smoke is shrouding parts of Los Angeles, where a 13,000 hectare wildfire is threatening hundreds of homes northeast of the city. 70 mountain cabins have already been destroyed. Thousands of residents have been ordered from their houses as flames approach one suburban neighborhood.

Some residents of San Dimas Canyon are in evacuation centers and others were ready to leave as firefighters work to hold the approaching flames at bay. Some people sprayed their homes with water as others, including this man, gathered their belongings. "We're all packed up, ready to go," he said. "We've got the dogs ready and whenever they say leave, we'll leave."

Residents have been ordered to evacuate another community higher in the mountains, the ski resort of Mount Baldy Village. Hundreds have complied but about 50 residents chose to stay. Fire official James Wilkins says they would be wise to obey the order. "It's not a safe situation," he said. "Most of the folks aren't equipped to deal with a firestorm. You see these wonderful folks trying to save their homes with garden hoses. A garden hose, I can assure you, against an onslaught of 100 foot [30 meter] flame lengths, it just doesn't work."

2,700 firefighters are on the lines of the blaze 50 kilometers northeast of Los Angeles, as helicopters and airplanes attack the flames from the sky.

A smaller fire near San Jose in northern California has destroyed 30 structures, including 11 houses.