President Promises Help After Residents Flee Burned Ca. Homes

President Bush promises federal help to southern California, where hundreds of thousands of acres have now been charred by wildfires.

At least 700-homes have been reduced to burned-out ruins.

Wildfires are burning faster than firefighters can stop them.

The Santa Ana winds continue to whip the flames.

"The winds and the fire itself is behaving erratically. We might be forced to do quick and immediate evacuations," explained Ron Lane, director of emergency services for San Diego.

More than a half a million people have been forced to flee their homes.

"I just put water in the truck, the kids in the truck, the dogs in the truck and I just left everything else. I just looked around I thought, 'I got what's important,'" evacuee Annie Hoffman admitted.

Thousands of families are homeless and shelters are jammed. Many residents were forced to spend the night at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Michelle Atkins was given only few minutes to evacuate her home.

"What can you say is more important than your life? I don't know," another evacuee, Michelle Atkins, said.

The high winds woke Dan Restifo from his sleep and he watched helplessly as the embers rained down on his wooden roof and destroyed his entire house.

"We just got a couple of baskets of stuff and some important papers and our baby," Restifo assured.

"I think I've just been numb the whole time, but it's finally hit that everything's gone. I just have some any mixed emotions right now," Annie Restifo said tearfully.

Firefighters say the weather conditions need to change for the situation to improve.

They need the winds to die down and the humidity to come up and get some rain.

But at this point, forecasters say the rain is not likely.

Four years ago this month, forest fires tore through southern California killing 22 people and destroying over 3500 homes.


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