|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Local Officials Discuss California WildfireAired January 3, 2001 - 11:03 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, we go to the other coast, back to southern California.
Mr. Tisam (ph), are you still with us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am.
KAGAN: I apologize for that interruption, we just wanted to get those live pictures on for our viewers. Now we have more live pictures from this area and from your Indian reservation.
For folks not familiar with this area, I think we're talking like 30 miles east of San Diego.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am.
KAGAN: What else can you tell us about the reservation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it has 1,600 acres. We have a casino on it, we approximately have about 300 residents on the reservation.
Right now, the fire is burning away from the reservation, but we do have a threat to us.
KAGAN: That is good news, that the winds are cooperating, that the fire is going in the opposite direction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
KAGAN: So far, though, have you lost any homes on the reservation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, ma'am, but I was a firefighter for 18 years, and I'm listening to my scanner outside. And it seems like we've lost few houses, not on the reservation, but in the community of Alpine, which is our concern. Lot of us have grown up in Alpine, so our hearts go out to those people.
KAGAN: And our live pictures would back up what you're hearing on your scanner, as we've been able to show those live pictures of those houses burning to our viewers here on CNN.
Well, let's call in your expertise as your many years as a firefighter: What can you tell us about the difficulty of fighting such a quick burning fire in this kind of terrain?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was, like you said, I was a firefighter for 18 years -- wild-land firefighter -- and it is extremely dangerous. And I like I said, my heart goes out to the residents of Alpine, and people to the southwest of here, and the firefighters. I just hope they're being safe and very careful.
KAGAN: From our pictures, it looks like we're talking about a hilly area. That makes it tough in fighting the fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.
KAGAN: Also an area of pretty dense vegetation, but it looks rather brown and dry, and that along with the winds is a bad combination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, we haven't had any substantial rainfall here in Alpine area for months now, and as the wind comes off the desert like it does, it just dry everything out, and the few moistures are way down -- so that's what you get here in southern California.
KAGAN: And those are the Santa Ana winds. Our Flip Spiceland, our meteorologist, was explaining it to us earlier: that the wind usually is blowing from the ocean in, which would help because it would have a lot more humidity in it, but this, coming up off the desert, is drier, and that's just going to make the problem even worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly -- off the -- off the ocean, you call that a sea breeze. This is a Santa Ana wind, which comes off the desert, which is extremely dry. It's probably blowing at my house here probably 20 miles an hour. Where the fire is, earlier this morning, it was probably blowing excess of 50 miles an hour.
KAGAN: And just one more quick question about the folks on the reservation. Have they all been evacuated, or are they staying in their homes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we haven't had any evacuation. We have a campground on the reservation and the sheriff had evacuated them about two hours ago.
We opened up the travel office for, like, an evacuation center about 1 1/2 hours ago. For anybody on the reservation that's concerned, can they go there, get some coffee, doughnuts or, you know, some cold drinks, or something like that.
KAGAN: Well, we wish you well in taking care of members of your tribe and hope the winds keep blowing your way and blowing away from the reservation.
Once again, that's Mr. Steven (ph) Tesam. He is chairman of the Dehigh-Kumi-i (ph) Indian tribe that has its reservations right up along the town of Alpine, where we've been watching these flames burn all morning long, and the houses burn as well. With more on this story, this out-of-control wildfire, here's Leon.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and we've been watching these -- these pictures we're getting in here by way of our affiliate KTLA, from Los Angeles, and we've also been getting some from KGTV, our affiliate in San Diego.
You can look at these pictures, and as we saw just moments ago, you can see these palm trees bending in this breeze. Quite stiff wind they've got out there, and that is what is causing the big problem.
Let check in now with Doug Mather (ph). He's a fire chief in La Mesa, California.
Mr. Mather, can you -- where exactly is La Mesa in relation to the fire that we've been seeing burning as -- I believe, since the south of Ontario (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: La Mesa's off of Interstate 8, the same highway that runs through Alpine, and we're about halfway between Alpine and San Diego.
HARRIS: All right, can you tell us whether or not this fire is actually burning and blowing toward you or away from you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's not threatening the community of La Mesa right now. My job right now is coordinator for the dispatch center that's helping coordinate this fire in Alpine.
HARRIS: So how's that process going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's going pretty hectic, as you can imagine. The fire started at just before 5:00 this morning in the center divide of Interstate 8, and our last report was over it's over 1,000 acres at this time, and we do have structures that have burned, as I'm sure you've seen on your feed from local news.
HARRIS: We're watching one burn now, even as we speak, as a matter of fact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
HARRIS: Any idea of how many structures may have been engaged?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at this time, we only have confirmation of a half a dozen structures, but that's only the confirmation we have right now. My fear is it would be more than that.
HARRIS: Are you also worried about the way this fire is hopscotching. Earlier this morning, we were talking about it having been burning for about an hour, 1 1/2 hours or so, and then within a matter of another hour, it had blown across the highway and was moving more rapidly than we thought it would be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the terrain's very rough out there, it's very steep, and with the dry east winds blowing, those -- the combination of those factors makes that fire move very quickly.
HARRIS: Do you have enough crews the work on this situation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a lot of people from all around the county on this. We have many, many firefighters out there; I can't give you a total count right now, but we're confident we'll get a hand on it, but there is no sign of containment at this point in time.
HARRIS: This has got to be a rather unexpected occurrence here, because I know many of the crews out there fighting this fire were also busy throughout this entire summer, which had tons -- there were so many fires that were burning across the West -- wouldn't you have expected this to be pretty much quiet time out there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, typically, in our typical weather pattern, this is a little more quiet time for that region, but we've been fearful of this lately because we've had very little rain so far this season, and it's been very dry with what we refer to as Santa Ana conditions, with the east winds blowing in off of the desert, and it dries out those fuels and makes for a very explosive situation.
HARRIS: We sure do wish you luck dealing with that explosive situation, Doug Mather, fire chief of La Mesa, California, good luck.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.