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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

San Diego Press Conference

Aired October 28, 2003 - 14:21   ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Six thousand acres per hour, the fastest moving fire this fire chief in San Diego has ever seen. He's briefing reporters right now.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JEFF BOWMAN, SAN DIEGO FIRE CHIEF: ... approximately 30,000 acres that have been involved in the city limits of San Diego.

We know that we have at least 350 homes destroyed in the Scripps Ranch area. And I've asked staff to go back through and get an exact number which I hope to have by the end of this day. But we know it's at least 350 homes destroyed in Scripps Ranch. We have six others that are at least partially to 50 percent damaged in that same neighborhood.

In Tierrasanta we have 11 homes completely destroyed and 33 partially destroyed. In the city of San Diego, at this time, we have estimated -- and this is just the involvement of the Cedar Fire in the city of San Diego -- 60 percent containment. Let me try what that means to you.

Containment of a fire means that either we have people on a fire line protecting the area unburned on the opposite side of the fire line or we have a natural barrier keeping that's keeping that fire from spreading.

So we identified today at this point 60 percent of the San Diego city involvement of the Cedar Fire contained. We hope to have 100 percent of the San Diego area contained by tomorrow.

We have had no additional firefighting activity where we have active fire fronts in the city of San Diego in last 24 hours. All of our requested resources have arrived in the city. We have 30 mutual aid engine companies operating in the city of San Diego. They are staffing the fire lines that I referred to earlier.

We are trying to get as many city of San Diego units back to their fire stations so that we can provide the day-to-day needs that we have in a city this size. This is America's seventh largest city. We have a lot of needs on a day-to-day basis for fire and emergency medical protection.

We have four hand crews operating in the city right now. A hand crew consists of 20 individuals. So we have four outside jurisdictional hand crews operating, a total of 80 people. We also have the Sycuan hot shot crew operating in the city, that's another 20 individuals. And a five-member tree-felling crew from Sycuan.

So that's 105 personnel that are operating predominately in the Scripps Ranch area and they are trying to fell the trees that are either destroyed or damaged so that as we let residents in this afternoon that have an added level of safety.

Our weather predictions as you probably know look good. Today we have a bit of a marine layer at the coastal side of this fire. Temperatures are down, as you know. We have had a little bit of east wind activity in the eastern portion of the city of San Diego which tells me that they're still having fire weather on the eastern flank of the Cedar Fire.

Our humidity is expected to get into the 30s today and potentially into the 50s and 60s tomorrow. And I want to reiterate that's in the city of San Diego where we have coastal influence.

Lastly I'd like to say we have a retired fire battalion chief from the city of San Diego that's struggling in the hospital as we speak. He is probably the most renowned firefighter in the history of the San Diego fire department for training personnel to handle these types of fires.

And I want to publicly say to Ken Rice (ph) and his family, thank you for your efforts over the years because the result of that is having trained professionals doing things that you taught them to do.

And I'll turn it back to the mayor at this point.

MAYOR DICK MURPHY, SAN DIEGO: At this point, I'd like to call up both Council Member Brian Mainshine (ph) and our Police Chief Bill Lansdowne to give people an update on the return to Scripps Ranch. Gentlemen?

PHILLIPS: We're following the news conference there out of San Diego via our affiliate KFMB. Just a quick update here. Mayor Dick Murphy introducing the fire chief there Jeff Bowman, talking about the Cedar Fire now 45 miles long.

Live pictures now via KABC, 45 miles long the Cedar Fire getting bigger by the second. The fire chief saying it's moving faster than anything he has ever seen in his career. Six thousand acres per hour is burning right now in the San Diego area, 350 homes particularly in Scripps Ranch and 15 people dead.

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