'Perfect Firestorm' Conditions Fan California Flames

California's governor and officials of San Diego County are calling the wildfires there the worst in the state's history and attributing their growth to a combination of factors -- high temperatures, extremely dry landscape conditions, and powerful winds -- that created "all the ingredients for a perfect firestorm," in the Oct. 22 words of Ron Roberts, chairman of the county's Board of Supervisors.

California news media are reporting today that 500,000 people have been evacuated. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's temporary Web site tracking the blazes (www.fire.ca.gov/) says the largest San Diego County fire is the Witch Fire, which as of this morning had burned 145,000 acres and destroyed 500 homes and 100 commercial properties. The Harris Fire is also uncontrolled in the county and had burned 22,000 acres and caused 17 civilian injuries, one firefighter death, and five firefighter injuries, according to the site.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Web site (http://gov.ca.gov/) and the site of the San Jose Mercury News (www.mercurynews.com) are two online sources for updated information. The National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org) also is posting wildland fire information.

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