SoCal Fire Roundup: Bush Issues Federal Disaster Declaration - NBC Southern California

SoCal Fire Roundup: Bush Issues Federal Disaster Declaration



    SoCal Fire Roundup: Bush Issues Federal Disaster Declaration
    An injured owl is rescued from SoCal wildfires in November 2008.

    President George W. Bush has issued a federal disaster declaration for Southern California as a result of the wildfires in the area. The action will make federal funding available to communities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Santa Barbara counties.

    Fire Insurance Information | FEMA: Wildfire Information

    The declaration comes after a series of wildfires ripped through Sylmar and areas of Orange County.

    Freeway Complex Fire Rips Through State Park

    [LA] Freeway Complex Fire Rips Through State Park
    Among the casualties of the Freeway Complex Fire, which burned in three counties, was a state park.
    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008)

    Also Tuesday, Inspector Frank Garrido of the Los Angeles County Fire Department warned residents returning to their homes after fire evacuation to be on the lookout for snakes and other wildlife coming out of the forest area.

    Also Tuesday, Inspector Frank Garrido of the Los Angeles County Fire Department warned residents returning to their homes after fire evacuation to be on the lookout for snakes and other wildlife coming out of the forest area.

    Firefighter Rescues Great Horned Owl

    New Anaheim Assistance Center Opens

    [LA] New Anaheim Assistance Center Opens
    A new assistance center opened Tuesday in Anaheim to help fire victims start rebuilding their lives and homes.
    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008)

    Animal rescue workers have already begun their work.  ( 

    Brenda Varvarigos, director of the nonprofit Valley Wildlife Care (yes, they need your donations) sent a photo of this injured owl around the Internet, with this note:

    "Not only do people loose their homes during the fires, so do thousands of wild animals.  Due to the fact that I am the only bird rehabilitator that will intake emergency wildlife 24 hrs a day, I have not had much sleep. The patients coming in are very sad cases, many of them not salvageable.

    "This male Great Horned Owl flew right thru an open flame in Sylmar last night. A firefighter spotted him coming thru the heavy black cloud when he noticed that he looked like he could barely fly and was very disoriented.  He thought quick to get his hose on him and down he came.  Thank god for this firefighter; the owl's eye's were completely singed and his eye lids almost burnt off. There was so much debris and ash ain his eyes, nose and throat, I am amazed he was still capable of flight.

    "After lots of flushing, fluids, and care he has become alert to his surroundings and is now standing up.  He needs constant oxygen and cool rags on his eyes and face.  What we don't know is if his vision will be affected. After he is stable, he will see a Veterinary opthimoligist to asses his eyes.

    "I have 3 owls here from the fires. The other two have oxygen tubes down thier throats and they have virtually no feathers as they burnt completely off. They are in heated incubators trying to survive. So far, so good."

    In another correspondence, Brenda wrote:

    "Here is Smoky Joe. After several eye treatments throughout the night, he was able to open his eyes.  I was pleased as his pupils showed stable light response and he appears to have no impaired vision.  His eye lids are raw and bleeding, but intact. Of course, once stable, he will still get checked by the eye doc. I flushed him with fluids and he coughed up about 1/4 cup of ash. His incubator smells like a chimney :("

    Federal Disaster Area Status Requested

    Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked President Bush to declare a federal disaster area for fire-stricken Southern California.  A federal disaster declaration could unleash millions of dollars to aid fire victims in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Santa Barbara counties.

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said President-elect Barack Obama contacted him Sunday night to offer what help he could. Obama has turned his campaign Web site home page into a plea to help fire victims that includes a link to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's site, where people can sign up to volunteer or donate to the Red Cross or Salvation Army. (Obama Web Site)

    Three raging wildfires in the five counties have destroyed hundreds of homes and forces thousands of residents to flee. The fires, which have burned since Thursday night from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and counties to the east, have burned more than 42,000 acres or 65 square miles. More than 1,000 houses, mobile homes and apartments have been destroyed in the fires in Los Angeles County, to the east in Riverside and Orange counties, and to the northwest in Santa Barbara County.

    LAFD News & Info

    Fire Video Clips (Raw)

    Corona/Yorba Linda/Anaheim Hills (Freeway Complex Fire)

    Firefighters sought to gain more headway Tuesday into the wind-driven wildfire that began in Riverside County and spread to Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, scorching more than 28,889 acres in three days. The blaze, which started near Corona in Riverside County about 9 a.m. Saturday, has destroyed or damaged 259 residences and continues to threaten about 1,000 homes, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. It was 75 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon. More than 3,800 state, county and city firefighters remain assigned to the fire, which has caused minor injuries to nine firefighters, according to fire officials.

    By Monday afternoon, all evacuation orders were lifted in the Diamond Bar area, where some of the most intense battles against the blaze occurred, fire officials said. Yorba Linda residents were also allowed to return to their homes Monday. Evacuations remained in effect today for the Carbon Canyon areas of Olinda Villago and Hollydale Mobile Home Park in Brea, as well as the Carbon Canyon areas of Sleepy Hollow and Oak Tree Downs in Chino Hills, the OCFA reported.

    Officials from Yorba Linda Water District advised those living in the Hidden Hills Estates neighborhood to boil tap water at least five minutes before it is consumed.

    St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Yorba Linda was expected to remain closed, possibly through the end of the week. St. Angela Merici Catholic School, Vineyard Christian Preschool & Elementary in Anaheim and Calvary Christian School in Yorba Linda were all closed Monday, and it was unclear if they would reopen Tuesday. (Video: Tuesday Morning)


    The 11,207-acre Sayre fire was 70 percent contained on Monday night, fire officials said. About 1,300 firefighters were still battling the blaze, about 100 less than Monday morning.

    The fire in the Newhall Pass that terrified thousands of San Fernando Valley residents, isolated a hospital left without electricity and destroyed more than 600 structures including 484 modular homes at the Oakridge Mobile Home Park, along with nine additional homes, 104 outbuildings and 10 commercial buildings, according to fire officials. Fifteen addtional homes were damaged.

    No serious injuries were reported. A search for possible victims at the mobile home park where hundreds of homes were destroyed has not turned up victims. Los Angeles firefighters released a list of homes in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park that withstood Saturday's firestorm and asked all Oakridge residents to check in with authorities. Video: Tuesday Morning

    UpdateMontecito (Tea Fire)

    A bonfire built by a group of young adults is what sparked a massive wildfire in Santa Barbara.

    Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday that 10 people had gathered at the tea garden where the fire originated. About 13 hours after they'd left, the fire broke out. The group believed the fire had been put out before they left.

    The fire had burned 1,940 acres and was 100 percent contained by Tuesday. Santa Barbara County officials said 106 homes were burned in the city of Santa Barbara and another 77 burned in neighboring Montecito. A state of emergency was declared in Santa Barbara County. (Full Story)

    Arrest in July Fire in Santa Barbara

    Authorities say they have arrested a 16-year-old boy for allegedly starting a wildfire in Santa Barbara County in July. The so-called Gap Fire -- unrelated to the recent blaze in Santa Barbara and Montecito -- burned 9,500 acres of private and National Forest land in Santa Barbara County. Suppression costs rose to $20 million. U.S. Forest Service and Santa Barbara County Fire Department investigators announced Monday the suspect was arrested on arson charges and is being held in the Santa Barbara County juvenile detention facility in Santa Maria.


    Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health crisis counseling teams will provide free mental health crisis counseling services to the fire victims and family members at the following locations:

    Sylmar Sayre Fire: San Fernando Valley Mental Health Center, 10605 Balboa Blvd., Suite #100, Granada Hills, CA 91344
    (818) 832-2400

    West Valley Mental Health Center: 7621 Canoga Ave., Canoga Park, CA 91304 (818) 598-6900

    Diamond Bar Triangle Complex Freeway Fire: Arcadia Mental Health Center, 330 E Live Oak Av. Arcadia 91006

    (Hours of Operations: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.)

    For more information and after hour services, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s ACCESS Call Center at (800) 854-7771. The ACCESS Call Center is open 24 hours, seven days a week, including all holidays.

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