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Residents Flee as Wildfire Rages Out of Control Near Alpine, CaliforniaAired January 3, 2001 - 11:46 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Updating you once again now on the latest on the fires burning this morning in Alpine -- near Alpine, California. These pictures coming in by way of our affiliate KTLA. You can see there is a house that has been totally destroyed. We've seen a number of these throughout the morning, some burning worse than others.
We're not in control of the camera shot, folks. That's one reason why we can't order the shot to be moved. But now that they're widening out, you can see there. There it is. There's the house totally engaged and gone.
This area, as we said, is near Alpine, California. It's in the hills east of Los Angeles and -- east of San Diego, rather. And as you can see there, it's a rather hilly and mountainous area. There's a lot of thick vegetation there that is causing the big problem for the firefighters out there, along with the fact that the Santa Ana winds are feeding this fire, blowing in from the desert as opposed to coming in from the ocean, which they normally do at this time of the year.
I can't tell whether or not that is Interstate 8, but we do know Interstate 8 has been a big part of this fire. It's been -- the fire actually hopped over the interstate at one particular point. And I believe that is Interstate 8 there. And as you can see, the fire is burning on both sides of it now.
The fire actually began on a strip in between -- I guess in the berm in between the two strips of the highway.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're seeing on the wires, Leon, that this might have started from a vehicle fire...
HARRIS: Is that what caused it?
KAGAN: Not for sure, but that is what the early word is on the fires.
Also, what's been remarkable about this fire is how quickly it moved. It started at 4:20 a.m. Pacific time. And within the few hours that we already had the flames here on the air with us, you could see that it had spread to several hundred acres. And as you mentioned, we've seen a number of homes engulfed in flames as we've been watching.
HARRIS: Look at the smoke there.
KAGAN: Here we have -- yes, there's the smoke. And we also have with us some tape of a resident who lives in Alpine to talk about how quickly this fire moved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now I'm looking at all the smoke and damage and the fire that's coming towards us. A lot of fire trucks out there.
QUESTION: And your house is...?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My house is directly east from where we're standing right now. When we got out of there, the fire was all around it. Hopefully I had enough clearing to not -- for the place not to burn, but my father-in-law's mobile home burned, his motor home burned, neighbor's house was on fire when we left. So it's going to be real tough.
QUESTION: Did you see your house start to burn?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, when I was getting everything out, the flames were close but not on the house itself.
QUESTION: And right now, do you think it's OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I think it's gone. From standing here watching the glow, of looking at the direction of the house, I think it's gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: A tough morning for the folks in Alpine, California.
We're getting live pictures now from our affiliate KTLA. That's actually out of Los Angeles, but they clearly have their helicopter down there in the southern part of the state.
It has been a fast moving fire. We understand as many as 200 structures threatened at one time, and this is far from being contained.
HARRIS: Exactly. And we want to show you some videotape that shows you exactly how hot this fire's been getting. You see this here?
KAGAN: This is the freeway.
HARRIS: The freeway itself was actually part of this fire; it actually did burn, we understand.
KAGAN: Probably an overpass and probably that's the fire coming up from underneath, and the smoke. HARRIS: It's rather hard to tell because of that shot. But there was the overpass, I believe, was further toward the top of that screen. But the fire is actually engaged on both sides. And, you know, a lot of people out there are concerned. Lots of firefighters. This community of Alpine has got somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 people out there, and many of them have had to be evacuated, if not all of them at this particular point.
KAGAN: And as the San Diego community has grown, as so many communities in Southern California, this is now a bedroom community. There are folks that live in Alpine and then drive in to San Diego. So I'm sure many folks in Southern California are watching this fire very carefully.
And we're going to lose our picture there, but once again we'll probably be -- we might have a chance to check in with Flip before the top of the hour. If not, he certainly will be along at "NEWSDAY" in the next hour.
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