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Fires continue to burn California at both ends, killing several

Deadly fires are closing major highways and threatening the homes of thousands under evacuation as they continue to grow in Butte and Los Angeles counties. And in Southern California, many were also mourning the recent shooting of 12 people at a Thousand Oaks bar. Sharon McNary from Southern California Public Radio joins Hari Sreenivasan for the latest.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Good evening. Thanks for joining us. Three major fires continue to burn out of control in California where firefighters are battling to save homes and lives during high winds and drought conditions. At least nine people have died their bodies were found in Butte County north of Sacramento. It's the location of the camp fire. One of the most destructive in the state's history we're close to 7000 homes and businesses have burned. The fire almost completely wiped out the town of Paradise and hundreds of thousands of residents in the area have fled. About 500 miles south near Los Angeles the Woolsey and Hill fires have burned more than 70000 acres and forced at least a quarter of a million people to evacuate.

    Last night a fire department helicopter captured the massive Woolsey fire as advanced over the ridgeline above Malibu and towards the Pacific Coast Highway. Sharon McNary is a reporter at Southern California Public Radio joins me now via Skype from Oak Park California.

    Sharon tell me what you what have you been reporting on this morning? What have you seen so far today?

    SHARON MCNARY I have seen just a lot of destruction a lot of areas being burned out. There's a very famous Park Malibu Creek State Park. Burned over its visitor center is lost. The freeway the 101 water main artery for getting around Los Angeles that was burned over. You can actually see the burned timbers. I've been to a number of burned out houses and I mean I'm sitting in front of one right now in Oak Park just the smell of it. It's just like this combination of like melted chemicals and plastic and wood and stucco. And then just the general vibe of people being evacuated and some staying behind. Just there's a procession of people driving up and down the street just to look at the burned out houses. You know it's kind of a combination of the good neighbor, 'Can I help. You and just lookey Lou.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So and also I want to ask about the mask that you've got on right now? What is the air quality like as you traveled through these places?

    SHARON MCNARY Well where I am right now this is one of the earliest places that burned early Friday morning so the air quality here is pretty good. But down in Calabasas closer to Malibu you need this mask because you get particles in your lungs and If you breathe that long enough. You just feel like you're trying to breathe the sponge.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And you're just off the road from the area that was having a vigil last night to grieve for those people that were the victims of the mass murder earlier this weekend. What happened there?

    SHARON MCNARY It's kind of a double whammy for this community, the family reunification center for that incident, turned into an evacuation center for the fire that followed.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So you had people that were grieving combined with people who were evacuees?

    SHARON MCNARY And there are people who have been affected by the shooting who have also been evacuated from their homes. Absolutely.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And put this in some geographic perspective for people who aren't familiar with Los Angeles or Malibu or Calabasas this is just sort of just a few miles up the road from those sort of famous beaches and lifeguard shacks were all used to seeing.

  • SHARON MCNARY:

    So the 101 freeway connects Greater Los Angeles to Ventura. And along that where all these you know very nice communities. And it's that it's burning. It's out. The 101 maybe about. 40 miles outside of Los Angeles and. Into the sea which is Malibu. So this fire. Has gone from the freeway the 101 about. 30 40 miles to the ocean and it just burned up hold on houses close to the ocean.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And finally I want to ask you the president tweeted this morning that he was basically putting the blame on a lot of this poor forest management. What's the response been from California leadership on this?

    SHARON MCNARY I can imagine they will recrossed the president. Smacks research. On the kind of forest management that California has done. The area that's burned is not particularly foresty it's brush. It's classic. Brush Fire territory. If there is a vulnerability here it's the people who live in this area who built in the wildland urban interface and not the forest management itself.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right Sharon McNary reporter of Southern California Public Radio joining us via Skype. Thanks so much.

    SHARON MCNARY Thanks for your interest.

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