Cedar Glen, California All but Destroyed by Wildfires

Charred chimneys, soot-covered bathtubs and mattress coils were visible Thursday through the ash that was once Cedar Glen, a small, poor community that took the brunt of a mountain firestorm and lost more than 300 homes.


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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.

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