Bush Views California's Wildfire Damage

President Bush visits with Jay and Kendra Jeffcoat and U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray (left). i i

hide captionPresident Bush (second from right) visits with Jay (right) and Kendra Jeffcoat while touring the remains of the Jeffcoats' home with Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray (left) in San Diego.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Bush visits with Jay and Kendra Jeffcoat and U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray (left).

President Bush (second from right) visits with Jay (right) and Kendra Jeffcoat while touring the remains of the Jeffcoats' home with Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray (left) in San Diego.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

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Hear Jay and Kendra Jeffcoat at the site of their destroyed home.

With a million people evacuated and more than $1 billion in damage in San Diego County alone so far, President Bush toured the Southern California fire sites.

The president flew in Thursday morning and took a helicopter to the scene of the fires. He then landed and toured some of the worst scenes of destruction in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Bernardo, at one point speaking to Jay and Kendra Jeffcoat near what used to be their home.

"For those of us here in government, our hearts are right here with the Jeffcoats," he said.

The president also visited with workers at an aide station where officials and private agencies were working together to help burned-out residents.

Bush Tours Fire-Ravaged Southern California

Marine One, with President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aboard, i i

hide captionMarine One, with President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aboard, flies over wildfire damage on an aerial tour of Rancho Bernardo, Calif. Bush pledged support to help rebuild devastated areas.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Marine One, with President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aboard,

Marine One, with President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aboard, flies over wildfire damage on an aerial tour of Rancho Bernardo, Calif. Bush pledged support to help rebuild devastated areas.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Bush visited Southern California Thursday to observe the devastation caused by the massive wildfires that have been burning this week.

The president spent about 25 minutes touring the area by helicopter before landing in Rancho Bernardo, one of the hardest hit areas in Southern California. There he spoke for a few minutes, assuring California that whatever it needs, including more firefighters, the federal government was there to help.

The trip and speech are an effort by President Bush to show he is interested in the situation and that the federal government is reaching out to the wildfire victims.

The president has already declared the situation a federal disaster — making the state eligible for federal assistance — which he and the White House have been playing up.

How much assistance the disaster designation will bring to California, though, is not yet known.

When asked about his response to the disaster, Bush says he will let historians, analysts and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) decide that.

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