Fires Rage in San Diego|
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Help Pours in for Calif. Fire Victims|
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Calif. Wildfires at a Glance|
Calif. Forestry and Fire Protection
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``It's crazy. It looks like World War II,'' said Chris Gomes, 28, who drove through the neighborhood in the San Bernardino Mountains on Thursday.
The erratic wind that stoked the blaze made its path appear capricious, with a child's pedal car unscathed just 30 feet from a charred car. The fire took another home nearby, but left an American flag flapping in the yard of still-green grass.
Los Angeles County fire Capt. Greg Cleveland called the blaze, just east of Lake Arrowhead, the ``most devastating and ... destructive fire I've ever seen.''
Wildfires have raged for more than a week across Southern California, destroying more than 2,600 homes and blackening around 730,000 acres. On Thursday, seven major fires were still burning in four counties.
Crews from The Gas Co. roamed Cedar Glen on Thursday, shutting off severed lines that continued to spew flames. At one home, gas was screaming out of a pipe, forming ``a ball of fire the size of a Volkswagen,'' crew leader Loyal Jennings said.
Nearby, four wooden steps were the only remnants of a house.
The fierce blaze had forced firefighters to retreat late Wednesday.
``The fire conditions were so intense, they could not make a stand in this community,'' Cleveland said.
On Thursday, wind continued to gust through the neighborhood, spinning an ornamental windmill in one yard as trees crashed down nearby. Power lines littered the neighborhood.
``If you hear something snap, run in the other direction,'' San Bernardino City firefighter Dennis Moon said.
John Lucas, 38, worked through the night to save the cluster of houses owned by his family. Working alone, he was able to save four of 11 buildings, using an irrigation system and a network of fire hoses he and relatives started installing in February.
Asked what he would say to neighbors who had not been as fortunate, he replied, ``I have no idea.''