Wildfires Spread Across Southern California

Wildfires, stoked by gusting winds, are burning out of control in southern California. One person was killed in a fire in San Diego. Thousands evacuate their homes from the celebrity enclave of Malibu down to the Mexican border.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Let's take a listen to the Santa Ana wind that's been blowing wildfire across California.

(Soundbite of sirens and winds)

INSKEEP: You hear the rumble of the wind there, as well as the sound of the human response.

(Soundbite of wind)

INSKEEP:As that wind continued to blow fires across the state, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in seven counties. More than 8,000 students at Pepperdine University have to shelter in place, as it's called. Early yesterday morning, students were shut up in the school's cafeteria and basketball arena. Students played video games while waiting for news.

We got the latest from a regular guest on this program, Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas Kmiec.

Professor DOUGLAS KMIEC (Law, Pepperdine University): I'm told that the university worship services went on without a hitch and that the students, for the most part, had a better breakfast than they probably would have had otherwise.

INSKEEP: By the afternoon, the campus was out of danger, but the changeable winds moved the fire along the Pacific Coast highway, putting other residents at risk.

Prof. KMIEC: And now the immediate threat is with homes in that area. Unfortunately, one of them is mine.

INSKEEP: Southern California is in the midst of a severe drought. Rainfall this year has been about one-fifth of the average. The fires have been especially severe in Malibu - the homes of the wealthy and of Hollywood celebrities are among those in danger.

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