Wildfire Breakout

November 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Action News reporter Jessica Peres is at Sylmar high school which is acting as an evacuation center for the hundreds of people who lost their homes.The Red Cross says they're expecting to house at least 300 people tonight, more people than they expected.

A blackened, cryptic-looking field is all that's left of a 600-mobile home park. On Saturday morning, fire and police officials asked media to leave the area and declared it a crime scene. Chief McConnell, SAT, says "The idea behind that is we have to secure that to make sure the media stays out of there, make sure the public stays out of there so that we can do a systematic search and make sure nobody is still in there and that everything's been recovered."

Giselle Hernandez and her family came by on Saturday to look at the charred mess hoping to spot their home among the wreckage. "It's the worst thing that's happened to us as far as losing our home and not having any control just trying feeling helpless trying to do whatever we can," says the Oakridge resident.

She and her family packed up few belongings before evacuating. Firefighters say flames rocked up to 300 feet with winds of up to 70 miles per hour.

Chief Mario Rueda, L.A. Fire Department, says "The firefighters stayed till the very last minute to try and basically what they do in structure protection is put themselves between your house and the fire in an attempt to save it."

Hundreds of Oakridge residents who lost their homes spent the day at the Sylmar high school gym watching the news and comforting each other.

Betty Zalud, Oakridge resident, says "Everybody we're all talking about it but I think it's a good thing."

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came by the school and talked to evacuees who lost their homes. "Tragically we have lost more homes in this fire than we have in decades as I understand it."

Firefighters say they have 20% of the fire contained so far. The winds have died down, which is what crews were hoping for. They think they were able to save at least 124 of the mobile homes.

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