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In Southern California, Dry Conditions, Winds Help Wildfires Burn

Aired December 26, 2000 - 10:36 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Complete opposite situation in southern California, where there are wildfires in Thousand Oaks -- that is the southern part of Ventura county, just outside of Los Angeles county, and a number of homes threatened in that area.

Live pictures for you, showing a scene that we don't usually see the end of December, but it is very dry conditions there, and the winds are very high.

And with more on that, on the weather conditions, we can bring in Flip.

Flip? Santa Ana, not typical situation, end of December, but not unheard of.

FLIP SPICELAND, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not unheard of: It has happened at all times of the year, but again, you don't really expect it around the Christmas holidays. Temperatures in Los Angeles, for example -- because those are easy for me to get -- have been up in the 70s, and even warmer on a few days, and there have been a couple days where the Santa Ana died down.

But it has been very, very windy, and the reason for that is the large area of high pressure that is well inland. There are wind advisories right here in this area right now.

Daryn, and for those folks who are not familiar with southern California, but maybe have visited there -- help me with this, Daryn -- Thousand Oaks would be north of Los Angeles going up 101 on the way to Ventura. Is that right, Daryn?

KAGAN: Right, if you're driving from Los Angeles up towards Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks is the first community right when you pass the county line between L.A. county and Ventura county.

SPICELAND: And Ventura county.

KAGAN: That commute -- yes, I mean, a lot of people, you live in Thousand Oaks, you drive into Los Angeles to work -- that's not unheard of, as well.

SPICELAND: Part of the L.A. basin, or is it up in the mountains?

KAGAN: Well, it's not really -- it's hilly area.

SPICELAND: It's hills, the hills.

KAGAN: Yes, I think it depends where you are from: What would be considered a hill in southern California...

SPICELAND: Yes, exactly, whether you call those hills or mountain.

KAGAN: ... here in Georgia would be considered a mountain, but...

SPICELAND: But they're not the Santa Ana chain, or the Hollywood Hills?

KAGAN: I don't think the Hollywood Hills...

SPICELAND: Go that far north?

KAGAN: ... a little bit farther north than that.

SPICELAND: No.

KAGAN: Just as you're driving past Malibu, again, it's on your way up to Santa Barbara -- pretty country.

SPICELAND: Not -- yes, very, beautiful area, Thousand Oaks is. It's not right on the coast...

KAGAN: No, a little bit inland...

SPICELAND: ... it is near the coast.

KAGAN: ... which makes it drier and hotter.

SPICELAND: Exactly -- and we don't see any chance of the wind dying down soon. That's why a wind advisory was issued for the area -- highly populated region, correct, Daryn?

KAGAN: Yes, a lot of homes there. We're seeing that bulldozer there.

We talked to an official from the Ventura county police department a little but earlier. He made a couple good points. First of all, you mentioned the wind: big part of what's going to happen to these homes in the area is the direction that the wind goes through out the day -- and of course, no control over that.

Also, he pointed out that fire officials in that area had done a lot of preparation work. You live in that area, they come around your homes and they say look...

SPICELAND: Yes.

KAGAN: ... you need to clear this brush, you need to clear a lot of this area, and that makes a difference on a day like today whether those flames come up to your house.

SPICELAND: We expect that the wind will be coming out of the northeast, for the most part, or perhaps the east, throughout much of the day.

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