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Breaking News

Wildfire Threatening Homes in Southern California

Aired December 26, 2000 - 8:44 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, breaking news out of Southern California as a wildfire of about 20 to 25 acres is raging out-of- control in Thousand Oaks. Those flames smack in the middle of a development there and heading toward the North Ranch Country Club.

Winds gusting there up to 50 miles an hour and expected to increase in speed and maintain throughout the day. So it is critical for firefighters to get control of that fire. We are going to keep an eye on that, and our thanks to our affiliate KTLA for those aerials.

Right now, in fact, we've got Bill Thomas. He is the chopper -- I don't know if you're the photographer or the reporter from KTLA.

Bill, what is the situation? What are you hearing on your radio about the situation on the ground?

BILL THOMAS, KTLA: Right now, this fire, it's about a 20- to 30- acre brushfire, the Oak Park area of Thousand Oaks, just about 30 to 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The fire broke out about 2:30 this morning. Fire continues to burn out of control. As we said, about a 20- to 30-acre brushfire.

The problem for fire crews on the ground right now, there's a 20- to a 30-knot wind out of the north. That's pushing those flames south along the ridgeline, closer and closer to very expensive homes here in the area.

Now, fire crews, they are trying to surround the area. They're in the backyards of many of these homes right now, and we haven't heard the official word on evacuations, though with these flames getting closer and closer to these homes, we imagine evacuations will be coming up very shortly if they haven't already begun already.

Fire crews, as we said, are on the ground now. They're trying to battle this blaze. They'll be assisted a little later this morning at sunup by L.A. and Ventura County fire-fighting, water-dropping helicopters. They generally won't start their operations until sunup. It's too dangerous.

So again, in a short while, the fire crews on the ground, they will be assisted by water-dropping, fire-fighting helicopters in the area. They'll do all they can to save these homes here in the area. Again, no reports of any evacuations, no reports of any injuries as well, and we'll keep you updated here from the helicopter in Ventura County.

Overhead, it's Bill Thomas in the helicopter, and back to you guys on the ground.

LIN: Bill, a quick question for you. It seems from our vantage point, which frankly is your vantage point because we're looking at your shot, that these flames are getting awfully close to some of these homes. Why is it that they are not ordering evacuations or is it -- or are they deceptively further away?

THOMAS: Actually, they look to be within about 100, maybe 150 yards of homes in the area. I've heard no official reports of evacuations from the helicopter. Perhaps they have begun to evacuate the area already. If they haven't, I'm sure that will be happening in the next several minutes here.

LIN: Do they know how this fire started?

THOMAS: No. The cause of the fire will be under investigation for quite some time. It broke out just a little over three hours ago, about 2:30 this morning. No official word yet on the cause of the fire.

LIN: Is it unusual for a fire like this to be starting in the wintertime out there?

THOMAS: Not unusual in the wintertime, and certainly not unusual with these very high winds we have. Officially, I believe we're out of the fire season. We did have the SuperScoopers from Canada. They've been down for several months, and they just left last Friday to go back to Canada.

So it's not unusual to have a fire this time of the year and even less unusual with all the heavy winds we're having. Again, about a 20- to a 30-knot wind out of the north.

LIN: Bill Thomas, KTLA, thank you very much for reporting in.

THOMAS: My pleasure.

LIN: All right. Keeping an eye on that breaking story in Southern California.

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