Southern California's tardy fire season erupted with a fury as the first Santa Ana winds of autumn fanned flames across tens of thousands of acres. A fire captain was killed, a tanker pilot was presumed dead, and hundreds of homes were threatened.
Correspondent Jonathan Elias of CBS Station KCBS-TV in Los Angeles reports that two fires are raging out of control east of Los Angeles, one near the town of Banning and the other near Calimesa.
Residents filled cars with belongings and left the fire area 90 miles east of Los Angeles, while those who remained used hoses to wet their roofs and lawns. At least three structures were destroyed
Winds up to 30 mph blew flames across the Riverside County hills covered with tinder-dry brush, although gusts started to die down by nightfall Monday, said California Department of Forestry Battalion Chief Jim Wright.
"We've got to take advantage of the cooler temperatures, try to get as much done as we can now before winds start to swirl up again," Wright said. "We've got continued wind forecast for the next few days, so we've got to get our work done quickly."
CBS "This Morning" Meteorologist Craig Allen reports that there is little chance of rain southern California in the next few days.
A number of blazes erupted Monday within several hours. One fire rushed west through a Riverside County area known as the Badlands and grew to about 18,000 acres. About 600 people were evacuated from a housing development in Banning, a city of about 20,000 people.
To the north, 3,200 acres burned in Cherry Valley. Jerry Jacques, 32, was among 500 people evacuated from the area. He grabbed his children's pictures and valuable baseball cards. Of his other belongings, he said, "I wouldn't know where to start."
Capt. Thomas Oscar Wall, 44, of the Orange County Fire Authority suffered a fatal heart attack while hosing down roofs in Calimesa. He collapsed after telling colleagues he wasn't feeling well and was having trouble breathing. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The air tanker was fighting a fire when it crashed in the Poppet Flats area. The pilot was presumed dead, but conditions made it impossible to get there, said Karen Terrill, chief information officer for the California Department of Forestry.