Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Wherever we go, people are crushed by this fire
It's not inside the fire lines where we really feel the impact of these fires. It's when we cross back over the police barricade and come face-to-face with the people affected.

At the gas station the attendant tells us his two young children with asthma are on respirators from the smoke. In the hotel lobby, a teenager evacuated with her family watches TV past midnight because she can't sleep. At the grocery store another evacuee tells us he slept in his car because he couldn't find a hotel room. Stores are closing and businesses reducing services because employees are gone, dealing with bigger problems than getting to work.

Thousands suddenly homeless, hundreds of thousands out of their homes. Wherever we go, there is someone hurt by this fire.

-- By Chuck Afflerbach, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 10:30 PM ET
  26 Comments
Congressman D. Hunter just announced in television around 7:30 p.m. today that the State of California is not using the military planes willing to assist with the fires in San Diego, Why?
Posted By Anonymous : 10:44 PM ET
I can believe those with asthma are having a horrific time breathing. I wonder how many people have had to be hospitalized because of respiratory problems aggravated by all the smoke.

According to the global warming predictions conditions that fed these wildfires are going to be prevalent out West. I hope that prediction does not come to fruition but in case it does I hope that we learn about caring for the victims of these situations so we are better prepared for others we might see later on down the road.

Annie Kate
Birmingham, AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 10:56 PM ET
I live E of Malibu. I am told to stay put. The danger has not set in for most of my friends, thinking it will not get that bad. We can't always depend on the government; we've seen a lot of tragedies which could have been avoided. I just heard 2 fires have broken out in Camp Pendleton. One — the Ammo Fire is at the base of San Onofre Peak and is headed up toward telecommunications equipment at the summit, towards the San Onofre nuclear power plant. This seems like a serious danger. I realize the government doesn't want hysteria; but, should the public start evacuating? Will you be addressing this?
Posted By Sonya Rose : 11:08 PM ET
If what we experience is just a glimpse of what lays ahead due to global warming, then our government should stop focusing on the war on Iraq and invest the $2 billion a week we spend on subsidizing entrepreneur and companies who are working on making America non-dependent on oil.

In addition, I am shocked that the water companies have not asked citizens and corporation to lower water consumption in a time where water is needed to stop fires. Something is just not in synch in America.

What other disaster are we waiting for, to make a change in our lives. It is time for Americans to become roles models to other societies such as China. How can we dictate other countries to lower their co2 emissions when we as a country are not doing what we could do. We just need a government who will really care about its citizens.

Middle School Math Teacher in Southern California
Posted By Middle School Math Teacher : 11:10 PM ET
We can all hope and pray for rain and dying winds. The uncertainty must be horrible. It is so random that one house is taken and the rest are spared. It doesn't sound like people were able to take much with them, either. It's hard to see people who have lost all they've worked so hard for. I hate to see the innocent wildlife swept away, also. Such a waste and tragedy. God bless all who are fighting these fires. Please be safe.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 12:02 AM ET
I'm sorry to see the situation caused by the wildfire in San Diego County. It's just so stressful.

My country, Indonesia, has been familiar with forestfire disaster too. I remember the smokey air lasting for more than a week back then in the late 80s when I was a kid living in Sumatera island. To my childhood's imagination, the view in white like that gave me signal of the end of the world, as my teacher said.

Cycle of deforestation by irresponsible men cannot be cut up until now. Bribery has always been a successful way to let them run free.

Anyway, great respects to the firefighters over there for their long hardwork! Salute for America's volunteering spirit and amazing emergency response!

GBU.
Posted By Nana : 12:07 AM ET
Thank you for your coverage tonight. It was heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. From what I have heard from friends in San Diego everyone is trying to help everyone else...one friend even told me one of the shelters was offering massages to try and relax people a bit.

To all of the people from the fire-struck areas that may be reading: our hearts go out to you, we're thinking of you guys constantly and hope you get some relief soon!
Posted By jess - burnsville, mn : 12:08 AM ET
When I lived in Tacoma, WA, there were regular controlled burns to get rid of the brush and undergrowth that fuels these massive fires. Also in WA, they would regularly let the fires burn as long as they did not pose a threat to residential areas. Is this same thing happening in SoCal?
Unfortunately wildfires are part of nature, and necessary for the health of the forest. If we don't let the little fires do what they are supposed to do, this will be the end result. Now I don't know if this is the result of bad environmental policy or nature being nature, but we need to understand that this is what happens when we are not careful.

Hopefully everyone in the path of the fires can get to safety, with minimal loss of important belongings.
Posted By Nestor, Austin, TX : 1:45 AM ET
Organize yourselves now to do battle with the insurance companies.

There will be a lot of people filing insurance claims. If you are one you are in for a big surprise. You insurance company is not the nice friendly outfit ou thought it to be. They will walk all over little old ladies and weaklings.

The best thing the fire survivors can do is to organize so they can compare notes. Then divide into subgroups based on insurance companies. This will give you a lot more clout than if you try to deal with the insurance companies by yourself.

Beware of signing anything that sounds like a complete payoff. Insist that each payment be labeled a partial settlement.

I speak from my own experience with the Cerro Grande Fire, Los Alamos, NM May 10, 2000. I learned from the experience of others dealing with the aftermath of the Oakland fire of 1991.

There is strength in numbers. Organize now. You can help each other more than you realize.

Good luck to all. Your two years of aggravation is just beginning.

Jim
Posted By Jim Potter : 1:49 AM ET
Godspeed to the firefighters and all good wishes to those who have suffered. I'm not even there and I have an empty feeling; just reminds us that as much as we like to think we're in control, we aren't really .
Posted By andrew e., woodland hills, ca. : 2:52 AM ET
I also wish the people of california a quick recovery from these fires. Life is too short to complain about the things you don't have, or the car you can't afford. Be Thankful you have health and your loved ones to help you thru this difficult time; thoughts and prayers to everyone affected.
Posted By Casey C, Cheyenne, WY : 2:55 AM ET
Stop and say a prayer for those who are putting their lives on the line in this situation.
Posted By rhonda hallberg, andover md : 2:58 AM ET
If roads are blocked and shelters are difficult to locate, perhaps - crazy as it sounds- cruise ships that can take people from the coast can then be used as shelters. Far-fetched, but an idea...
Posted By brandon d. --- marietta ga : 3:02 AM ET
God, please rescue the people and pets and get these fires out. Please send rain, lots of it and soon to California and Georgia as well. Get FEMA to work this time. Protect the firefighters and medics from harm and save the animals . amen.
Posted By marcia, detroit, mi. : 3:06 AM ET
I've seen comments on the internet bashing Bush- why does everything have to come down to political leanings - even wildfires! No matter who they are, or where they live or how much money they have, these people are suffering. Let's deal with that first, and point finger of blame tomorrow.
Posted By Jennifer G., Providence, RI : 3:21 AM ET
Wouldn't it be more cost-effective to start a youth program for older kids to earn money thru summer to weed and cut brush rather than wait for a fire to ruin the land and homes again next year?
Posted By fred v., fairfax county, va. : 3:30 AM ET
Yes it's sad that so many people are hurt by this fire, not unexpected but sad. Why is it that no one is talking about the poor defenseless animals? Thousands and likely millions of life forms are being destroyed by this fire all in the name of greed. We take no thought on preserving areas that should not be built on. Big government is seduced by the KaChing of tax dollars and allows more and more land that should never be developed to go under the contruction hammer. Do I really pity the people that bought homes in these areas? Simply put...no I don't.

Randy T.
Posted By Randy : 5:38 AM ET
Why not use bombing to cut out fire spreading?
Posted By Anonymous : 5:48 AM ET
One item i keep hearing form the people in California, NO INSURANCE, not renters or home owners insurance..why?? Here along the gulf coast many also do not have coverage and then beg the government for no interest loans,,,sorry I pay my policy, I have insurance, I have coverage and I pay the piper in the end for those who do not have coverage, I ask WHY??? why do those of us that do pay need to pay more in the end for those who do not pay?/humm time to make laws to require coverage for every one and at the same time require the insurance companies pay their share also.

Johnny Trigg
Mary Esther, Fl
Posted By Anonymous : 7:42 AM ET
Is anyone in the news media going to ask FEMA if QualCom Stadium was a covered stadium, with at least twice as many people in it, smack in the middle of the firestorm, with no roads into or out, no electricity, running water or plumbing, would it be any better a situation than the Superdome in Katrina?
FEMA ia certainly having a great time patting themselves on their backs over the great job they are doing at QualCom, but the situations are entirely different and until this is aknowledged they haven't learned a thing.
We see video of clean conditions, tons of food and water, people milling about outside, moving into and out of the stadium at will. None of this was possible at the Superdome because conditions didn't allow it-not necessarily because of poor planning.
I am in absolutely no way defending FEMA in New Orleans-it was appalling that it took almost a week for anyone to even aknowledge there were people at the convention center when if was shown on the news almost constantly, but for them to think they have learned anything is just not believable.
Also, the Superdome was to be a refuge from the storm, with people leaving as soon as the storm was over. Not a shelter for days on end and so no accomadations were made for that-though it most certainly should have been anticipated.
Posted By Lisa : 7:54 AM ET
My heart goes out to the people effected by these horrible fires.
I can understand being evacuated from your home and not knowing when or what you will return to.
I lived through Katrina. You have to have faith and come together as a community and state, you will make it through this.
I hope FEMA has learned through Katrina, and can better accomadate this situtation.
It takes every available resorce there is, local, state and federal to handle a crisis of this magnatude.
Stay strong and demand and use your resorces and you will over come this. My thoughts andprayers
are with you all.
Posted By Mike, Uptown New Orleans, LA : 7:57 AM ET
Dear CNN,

I am not surprised over the marvelous response of the great men and women in California. I lived in California all my life, went through many major earthquakes, collapsed of freeways, as well as devastating fires. One of the things that is so remarkable about Californians is they do not hesitate to help each other. I find the people on the East Coast where I am now living, are very selfish and less giving. More prone to bureaucracies that get nothing done.

As I was listening to CNN this morning, the FEMA Czar Mr. Paulson was being interviewed. I was amazed that he took credit for his FEMA agency's rapid response to California's needs. In reality, his agency had nothing to do with the response of the various emergency departments that have responded to the fires. Direct emergency response units have been in place in California for decades. We have never suffered the inconveniences that are experienced on the East Coast. Emergency facilities are all on high alert whenever a tragedy strikes.

The only thing FEMA should do is take note as to how to really respond to an emergency situation. We don't play politics in California when it comes to the needs of people.

Californians are very resourceful, smart and caring. They will go out of their way to help in anyway they can to make things better for their neighbors not matter how far they are from each other.

I wish I could be there to help. My heart goes out to my fellow Californians. I wish them a quick recovery, they will survive.

Sincerely,
Cheryl Bailey
Tampa, FL
Posted By Cheryl Bailey : 8:53 AM ET
Yes Jess because if I ever God forbid lose everything I have in life a freakin' massage will make it all better.
Posted By Anonymous : 11:57 AM ET
In answer to the question about why the military aircraft weren't up helping:
1. for the first day or so, the winds were too high for air support and
2, and far more seriously, the Marines were initially refusing to accept spotters from from CalFire Air command in their craft. Duncan Hunter's take was that they were trained and should be able to do what they wanted, but in a fire of this magnitude it is a horrible idea to allow a completely separate group to fight the fire without central coordination.

We learned many things in the previous major fire and things are much better this time, but it will never be perfect. Next time (and yes, there will be a next time, wildfires will always be part of life in the southwest), we won't have this problem -- but no doubt we will have others that people will second guess.

Overall, the local, state and federal groups have come together in a fantastic way and done an incredible job under the worst possible conditions. Thanks so much to all of them.
Posted By Anne, San Diego : 5:19 PM ET
I think it is absolutely horrible when people lose their homes. I do not want to downplay how terrible that is. The media is overplaying this though. I live in San Diego, University City to be exact. This fire has been compared to Katrina, and also to the 2003 Cedar Fires, but everyone makes it sound like this is worse. The 2003 Cedar Fires destroyed over 4500 structures. This one hasn't even reached 2000. The Cedar Fire killed 15 people. This one is up to 7 or 8. Much of these low numbers are due to the extraordinary effort of our Firemen, so my thanks to them. This fire has supposedly had more evacuees than any previous disaster. They say it's around 500,000 homes evacuated. Ummm.... yeah, that number includes areas such as Encinitas where NOBODY has evacuated. I drive through Encinitas to go to work in San Marcos, and guess what? Shops are open, people are out in the streets going shopping, eating in restaurants, etc. Don't believe everything you hear and see on the news. Qualcomm Stadium has how many evacuees? They say "thousands", but it's really somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000. Out of 500,000, that leaves over 480,000 people who are unaccounted for. Where are they? They certainly aren't all in Del Mar. I'll tell you where they are. They're at home, their out shopping, buying big screen t.v.'s (which is saw yesterday when I went to Fry's), they are living without any danger. The areas that have been burned are PRIMARILY rural areas, and yes, it is horrible how many people have lost their homes, but this pales in comparison to previous disasters. Which leads me to my final point. Why on earth didn't I spend more money than I can afford on a house last year, when I could have let it burn down this year and collect a nice, hefty check from the Federal Government. This country is becoming more and more socialist, and its feeding on FEAR. This is a free country, and people are free to buy homes and buy insurance. The government can't replace what they're losing. Insurance will replace the material things. What people are losing are the priceless items that can not be replaced. That is a tragedy, but one in which the Federal Government can do NOTHING about!
Posted By Dennis : 6:34 PM ET
Anonymous said...
'One item i keep hearing form the people in California, NO INSURANCE, not renters or home owners insurance..why?? '

I can not believe that peole with million dollar homes don't have insurance. How can I feel bad about this loss of home when they have the financial means to take care of themselves. It is not Katrina by any means, these are rich people who lost their homes and were able to drive from the scenes. Katrina folks had limitation in transporation and no insurance.
I have lost a home to a hurricaine, I was homeless but I had insurance and we made it through. The government should not have to pay for this.
Posted By Anonymous : 8:12 AM ET
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