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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Malibu Fires Continue to Burn

Aired October 21, 2007 - 22:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The pictures are amazing, the events, terrifying. Flames flick at the homes of the rich and famous. Malibu is burning. And we take you there live.
More than five million people without drinking water? That is a very real possibility in the state of Georgia. And the governor says it's Washington's fault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The actions of the Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Services are not only irresponsible, I believe they're downright dangerous. And Georgia cannot stand for this negligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Left high and dry by drought.

Stealing the car was easy, maybe a little bit too easy. It's the exciting tale of the thief, the camera, and the bait car. A 13-year- old boy misses the bus. Turns out that was the best part of his morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CALLER: He's getting in.

(DOG BARKING)

DISPATCHER: Go into a room or something. Lock yourself in.

CALLER: Oh my God, he's hitting my dog.

DISPATCHER: OK, stay on the line with me. Luis, Luis.

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: A story that will have your kids getting up a few minutes early for school.

A man heads out for some drinks at the local bar, but a few too many ended with him crashing in the wrong house. It will make you say, you've got to be kidding? You're in the NEWSROOM. Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. And we are focused tonight for most of this program on a raging, red hot emergency on the West Coast. Take a look at these pictures. Malibu, California; San Diego County up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, stampeding wildfires stopping for nothing and consuming everything in the way. Homes and buildings destroyed. Dozens more in the line of fire. At least one person is dead, some firefighters are hurt, and southern California is a smoky, fiery, dangerous mess tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

P. MICHAEL FREEMAN, CHIEF, LOS ANGELES CO. FIRE DEPT.: This fire's been very erratic. And it has moved rapidly when it has moved with the winds. And the fact that it's kind of come down below the ridge line up there has given us an opportunity to really work hard on it, but this fire is not over. It's not over until it's over. And we're a long way from there at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: A long way from there. OK, we all know that firefighters on the ground are fearless and plenty of people owe their homes and lives to their courage. But man, look at this firefighter from the sky in a plane loaded with water and chemical foam. Watch how low to the ground the pilot flies. OK. Great flying to be sure. And brave work by the pilots of the L.A. fire department. But brother, that's close.

To Malibu now where firefighters are on a - well, the wildfires are on a destructive rampage tonight. No other way to put it. CNN's Dan Simon is there. And Dan, we understand this fire is 0 percent contained?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zero percent contained, Tony. And we are standing in front of what was the Malibu Presbyterian Church. And all you can pretty much say is wow.

This is one of the first structures that went up. It's really hard to say what we're looking at. Here, I believe this is the office because you can see a file cabinet over there. But to my left, it's undoubtedly where worshippers would have come on what should have been a calm Sunday morning.

This is what happens when you have flying embers and high winds. We are told some of these embers were about a foot long. And you can see some of the hot spots still here at the church. So when you have these winds and the embers, this is what can happen. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): Fanned by gusts of up to 70 miles per hour, the fire ravaged several structures, including the Malibu Presbyterian Church and five high-priced Malibu homes. One of them nicknamed "the Castle," it had been on the market for $17 million.

P. MICHAEL FREEMAN, CHIEF (LOS ANGELES CO. FIRE DEPT.): We have a brush fire that has covered about 1,000 acres at this time. We do not have any containment on the fire.

SIMON: One guy's classic car collection destroyed in a matter of minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've go three class VWs. One there, two in the garage. We've got another diesel Mercedes here.

SIMON: Authorities say the predawn fire seems to have been sparked by downed power lines. More than 1,000 acres charred in just a matter of hours. Those with the wherewithal sprayed down their homes with water and foam. This house belongs to movie mogul Jeffrey Cassenburg of Dreamworks. But others like Amy Wang, who owns two restaurants, including this Thai eatery, could only hope the flames did not advance.

You have insurance, I assume?

AMY WANG, RESTAURANT OWNER: Yes, we do, but I don't want that. You know, it's getting worse.

SIMON: But by late afternoon, the winds died down. And the fire danger dropped considerably. The resources were plentiful. 500 firefighters and several water-dropping aircraft. But the forecast called for the winds to return. So crews are not taking any chances.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And firefighters right now are at this church trying to put out the rest of these flames. And guess what, Tony? The winds have returned, but crews are on alert. They're going to be out here throughout the night putting out any hot spots they might see.

Tony, we believe this fire actually started about a mile away from here when the winds knocked down some power lines. You had some sparks and then you had some huge embers. This church caught fire. And then, just below the church, you had a home that went up in smoke. And Tony, take a look at this -- more flames over here.

HARRIS: Oh, boy.

SIMON: You can see -- I just heard a big poof.

HARRIS: Yes.

SIMON: Some wood fell down. And you can see the flames there.

HARRIS: Well, I think what's interesting there, you can see what happens. You see the wind blowing that small fire there. You get embers. And next thing you know, you don't know where these embers are going.

And Dan, if you'll stay with us for just a second, we want to show folks more of these great aerial views of this fire. These pictures from our California affiliate Los Angeles there, KCAL. And boy Dan, do you have a toll? At one point today, we heard anywhere from 20 to 23 buildings destroyed or damaged. Any update on that figure?

SIMON: That's what we're hearing, anywhere from 20 to 23. As you said, Tony, there's going to be obviously some more updates in the coming hours.

HARRIS: Yes.

SIMON: But really the concern right now is these winds. And you know, the fact that you still have some hot spots like here at this church, you can obviously have another ember pick up and blow it somewhere else. And obviously, you've got a lot of real estate between here...

HARRIS: Right.

SIMON: ...and the ocean a few miles. And obviously a lot of high-priced homes here in Malibu, Tony.

HARRIS: OK, Dan, appreciate. Dan Simon for us there in Malibu. Dan, appreciate it.

And moving south now, down the coast to San Diego County. A similar scene with a fast-moving wildfire straddling highway 94. As much as well, 10,000 acres already blackened from two wildfires there in this area is where one person was killed. And at least four firefighters were injured. The fires are strongest in northern San Diego County, threatening homes in the Witch Creek area.

Here's another view of the explosive power of these wildfires. These homes in the Malibu Canyon are fully engulfed by flames, torched by the hot and dry Santa Ana winds. So this really does beg the question, is this just the beginning? Or is relief on the way any time soon? Bonnie Schneider is in the CNN severe weather center for us. Bonnie, what's the answer to that question?

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, not even the most majestic structures can stand against nature. The Malibu fire destroys a landmark castle. That story just 60 seconds away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: The pictures are amazing, the events, terrifying. Flames flick at the homes of the rich and famous. Malibu is burning. And we take you there live.

More than five million people without drinking water? That is a very real possibility in the state of Georgia. And the governor says it's Washington's fault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The actions of the corps of engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Services are not only irresponsible, I believe they're downright dangerous. And Georgia cannot stand for this negligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Left high and dry by drought.

Stealing the car was easy. Maybe a little bit too easy. It's the exciting tale of the thief, the camera, and the bait car.

A 13-year-old boy misses the bus. Turns out that was the best part of his morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CALLER: He's getting in.

(DOG BARKING)

DISPATCHER: Go into a room or something. Lock yourself in.

CALLER: Oh my God, he's hitting my dog.

DISPATCHER: OK, stay on the line with me. Luis, Luis.

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: A story that will have your kids getting up a few minutes early for school.

A man heads out for some drinks at the local bar, but a few too many ended with him crashing in the wrong house. It'll make you say, you've got to be kidding? You're in the NEWSROOM.

So let's talk about these wildfires on the move. Hundreds are trying to outrun a series of blazes tonight in California. Evacuations are becoming more commonplace. Other families have lost everything.

In Malibu, houses, businesses, and a church, even a castle all destroyed or heavily damaged. Firefighters say they are making some progress, but the acting mayor there says the blaze is 0 percent contained this hour.

And in San Diego County, fires have killed one person and injured eight others, including some firefighters.

Other losses are also stocking up. A Malibu landmark this hour is gutted. Hundreds of firefighters did their best, but they couldn't save Castle Kashan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A landmark castle, a monumental fire. Tonight, what was once regal is now in ruins. On an ordinary day, Castle Kashan was picture perfect, but the past 24 hours have been anything but ordinary for residents along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

DANIEL COLLINS, CASTLE KASHAN: When I woke up this morning, you couldn't even see outside the window, there was so much smoke. Quite a way to wake up.

HARRIS: Daniel Collins' day did not improve. Collins was staying at Castle Kashan as a house guest of philanthropist and socialite Lilly Lawrence, the daughter of a former Iranian oil minister. The two escaped as bricks were raining down.

COLLINS: Right before we left the property, they told us that the castle couldn't be saved.

HARRIS: Parched conditions, one of the driest years on regard, erratic powerful Santa Ana winds, all three combined igniting a threat into a reality.

COLLINS: We only had a couple of moments to gather some things. We never got back into the castle.

HARRIS: The castle wasn't in the fire's direct path, but whipping unpredictable winds fanned the embers. And firefighters were soon battling an unstoppable wall of flames. Lawrence says the loss is in the double-digit millions. Family heirlooms burned, paintings. And Elvis Presley memorabilia bought from his Graceland estate were all destroyed.

The castle itself was only about 30 years old, built in the late 1970s by Dr. Thomas Hodges. It was used as a setting for shows like "The Rockford Files".

COLLINS: Incredibly beautiful. Filled with priceless antiques, and a view of the mountains in the back, and a view of the ocean in the front. And it's just a wonderful place to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Well, according to entertainment website TMZ, the Castle was actually in escrow and said to have a final walk through on Wednesday. The asking price was $17 million. We're not sure what price was actually negotiated.

Still to come, reading, writing and arithmetic take a backseat at Pepperdine University. That's because the Malibu fires showed up on the doorstep. We will hear from some students hemmed in by the flames. That's just 90 seconds away. .

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Just more amazing photos to show you taken on the campus of Pepperdine University in the Malibu Hills. These photos taken by CNN viewers i-reporters at Pepperdine. The masks, anything to keep a smokeout.

The school evacuated the dorms because of the southern California wildfires and gathered students in cafeterias and gymnasiums. We're told one campus outbuilding caught fire. No one hurt so far.

Take a look at the Malibu Presbyterian Church near the campus of Pepperdine University. Totally engulfed. Totally destroyed as Dan Simon was mentioning at the top of the newscast. Witnesses say embers blowing in. The wind landed in the church steeple. Then the wind did the rest. And this church, a very special place to many Pepperdine students is gone.

One of the students is on the phone with us right now. Lindsey Laubacher is calling in from Conorio, California. Lindsay, good to talk to you. Tell us more about this church, which I understand was pretty special to you and a lot of the students there at Pepperdine.

LINDSEY LAUBACHER, JUNIOR, PEPPERDINE UNIV.: Yes, it definitely was. Very involved with, you know, the church itself. But we have on Tuesday night, university ministries every Tuesday night. And that was something that a lot of Pepperdine students got very involved in. I personally was very involved in it. And it definitely became my - you know, my church home. Definitely had a lot of special times and memories at that church.

HARRIS: Boy, take us back. Talk to us about your day. When did you get word someone either sending you a text, your phone going off, someone knocking on the door saying, uh-oh, it's time to go?

LAUBACHER: About 7:00 this morning my time.

HARRIS: 7:00 in the morning?

LAUBACHER: 7:00 in the morning.

HARRIS: Wow!

LAUBACHER: Yes.

HARRIS: And what do you do? How much time did you have? I mean, you're clearly a little disoriented at that point. What did you do?

LAUBACHER: Yes, they basically said get dressed and get down to the cafeteria. So you know, thrown on some clothes and went down. And there are tons of students down there already.

HARRIS: Did you take a look outside?

LAUBACHER: Yes, the sky was orange. It was - I saw the sun - orange sun was the theme tower in the background. It was pretty rare, weird sight.

HARRIS: Yes. Did you see just smoke? Did you see flames?

LAUBACHER: I didn't personally see any flames, but I know some people did.

HARRIS: Yes. How much time did you have to sort of grab whatever belongings you could get your hands on and get out of there? LAUBACHER: About five minutes.

HARRIS: Whoo.

LAUBACHER: Yes.

HARRIS: Pretty scary?

LAUBACHER: Yes, definitely.

HARRIS: OK. So what's next for you? I mean, you're clearly in a place that's safe right now. Are you thinking about tomorrow, when you can get back to school, the classes?

LAUBACHER: Well, I know classes are cancelled tomorrow. But you know, hopefully I'll be able to get back by - you know, hopefully I guess we'll be having classes on Tuesday. So hopefully I can get back sometime tomorrow. I know it's kind of impossible to get through back to campus right now.

HARRIS: Yes, everything's shut down.

LAUBACHER: Yes.

HARRIS: Well, Lindsay, thanks for your time. We're happy you made it out OK.

LAUBACHER: Thanks.

HARRIS: All right, Lindsey.

LAUBACHER: And still to come in the NEWSROOM, you know, they don't look like they're related, so what's the family tie between Barack Obama and Dick Cheney? Find out 90 seconds from now in dog bone politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK, we head back to Woodstock in tonight's edition of "dogbone politics." New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, they wanted to spend a million bucks in federal tax money on a museum to commemorate the 1969 music festival, which was held in their home state, but Senate Republicans said no way and blasted the project as a hippee museum.

Republicans forced a vote that stripped the money from an education bill. The museum paid for with mostly private donations. It's still expected to open next year.

The Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military is still very much in effect. That's why people, including people at the Pentagon, were surprised when military recruiting ads popped up on the glee.com website. Glee.com is a networking site for gay professionals. "USA Today" pointed out the ads to the military brass. And the ads soon disappeared. You probably have one and Barack Obama says he has one, too, a black sheep of the family. He used that line yesterday, referring to news that he and Vice President Dick Cheney are distant cousins. He had more fun talking about his new relative a few days ago on "The Tonight Show".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO: Did you know about this? Did you find out...

BARACK OBAMA: Yes, I actually did know -- people have been doing these genealogical...

LENO: Right.

OBAMA: ...studies of me. And I've got all sorts of rogues in my background. You know, you're always hoping for you know, kings...

LENO: Right.

OBAMA: ...and great leaders. .

LENO: Right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And a children's charity might be the only winner in the recent spat between Rush Limbaugh and some Senate Democrats. The senators sent a letter to Limbaugh's bosses at Clear Channel Radio, blasting his recent comments about "phony soldiers."

Limbaugh made the comment during a segment about an anti-war activist who faked his military service. He called the letter an attempt at censorship. And he put it up for bid on Ebay. It sold for more than $2 million. Limbaugh says he will match that money and then give all the money to charity.

Republican presidential candidates squared off tonight in Orlando. And CNN is there live. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dana Bash in Orlando. Florida where Republican presidential candidates sparred on the same stage like they never have before over who's the best conservative and who's best to beat Hillary Clinton. More on that coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And the Republican presidential hopefuls squared off at a debate tonight. But at times, it seemed like a contest to see who could prove he was the most conservative candidate and who offered the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton next November. CNN's Dana Bash is standing by for us in Orlando, Florida. And Dana, how often did you hear the name "Hillary Clinton" in the Republican debate tonight?

BASH: A lot. I think I stopped counting, Tony. And certainly that was a big part of the debate. They were certainly prodded to talk about Hillary Clinton. But a big part of this debate tonight was who is best - who's most electable really. Who is best to beat the person - the Democratic candidate that the Republicans believed, just looking at the polls, will be their most likely Democratic opponent in November.

And it's certainly got a little bit heated. Certainly there was some humor in a lot of the responses from Mitt Romney, from Rudy Giuliani, and even John McCain who had a - sort of a pointed answer, if you will, when he started talking about the fact -- started to hit Hillary Clinton for an earmark she tried to get in a funding bill this past week for a Woodstock museum.

And John McCain, of course, a Vietnam war veteran, who we all know was held captive in Vietnam said that he was, "tied up at the time." It certainly elicited some laughter, but then a standing e ovation for him because of his patriotism.

But Tony, that was a big part of it. But perhaps the headline here was the fact these Republican candidates sparred and sort of went after each other on the same stage in a way that they really never have before over the question that they've been talking about long distance for the past several weeks, really for the past several months, but more heated in the past couple weeks.

Who is the best conservative? And it was pointed and personal in a way that we really haven't seen before on that particular issue, going after each other on their credentials, on their record.

Mitt Romney having to defend himself on that particular issue because he is somebody who is seen as perhaps a Johnny-come-lately on being socially conservative on issues like abortion. And Rudy Giuliani on the fact that he says that he is simply for pro - for abortion rights. And that's something that people are going to have to deal with. Fred Thompson also got into this in a way that he really hasn't before, which was quite interesting, Tony, because he is somebody who has not really shown his stuff so far.

HARRIS: Yes. OK, Dana Bash for us. Boy, that's a lot on your plate tonight. A lot in that debate. In Orlando for us, Dana, appreciate it, thank you.

And still to come tonight, the flames are still burning in Malibu. We're headed back there next. We go live to the front lines of the fight. That is 90 seconds away. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Thanks again to our CNNI reporters for sending in those amazing shots.

Live pictures now as parts of the wildfire-ravaged Southern California coast -- you can see it for yourself -- continue to burn. That is prompting a declaration of hope, a prayer for a miracle and an urgent plea from the acting mayor of Malibu.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) PAMELA CONLEY ULICH, ACTING MALIBU MAYOR: I'm hopeful that the fire will be contained, and I'm hopeful the winds will die down. And at this point, they're not forecasting that. We're just hoping for a miracle to happen and that winds stop blowing the flames. And the embers are flying.

So we'll know in the morning what it's going to look like, but, at this point, like I said, it's 0 percent contained, and that is a very fluid situation, and we're just going to say prayers and, hopefully, everyone will be fine.

The most important thing is that people are ready to evacuate. If the call comes, just go. Nothing is more important than human life.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HARRIS: You know, it is just after 7:30 p.m. on the West Coast, but it won't be quitting time for firefighters for some time now. Let's check back with our Dan Simon in Malibu.

And, Dan, you can't see the pictures that we're showing folks at home of this wildfire maybe in a canyon. But I will you what, we can certainly understand by looking at these pictures why this is 0 percent contained. Give us the view from where you are.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the winds have really kicked up within the past 30 minutes. You know, it got calmer around 5:00 this evening here in Malibu, and then all of a sudden, the winds just started fanning again.

And let me show you where we are. This is the Malibu Presbyterian Church.

And, by the way, you know, two things that you've got to have with you if you're up here. You've got to have a mask and you've got to have some goggles because the smoke is just absolutely fierce. I've got this really bad burning sensation in my eyes right now.

But, in any case, over there where the pink (ph) camera is, that is where parishioners would have come on what should have been a relatively calm Sunday morning, but, no, you didn't have it.

Over here, I believe, is where the office is because you can see a file cabinet.

As we mentioned earlier, somewhere between 20 and 23 structures have been damaged or destroyed. We know at least five homes were completely leveled. A lot of people in the area were doing what they could to, you know, be proactive and try to prevent the flames from reaching their house.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, you know, the movie mogul -- it looked like Christmas in front of his house. There was so much foam in front of it. He was doing whatever he could to prevent the fire from reaching his house. But we're going to be up here for the better part of the night, Tony, and, obviously, firefighters working around the clock trying to put out any hot spots they might see.

HARRIS: Hey, Dan, very quickly, how nasty is that smoke? How acrid is it? Describe that for folks who've never been in a wildfire. It is pretty nasty stuff.

SIMON: Well, if you have asthma, you don't want to be up here, first of all. It's just really, really tough. It's -- on your eyes, it's awful. You've got to have these goggles. Between breaks, between our live shots, we've been putting these goggles on just to try to prevent the burning sensation of the eyes. It's tough.

HARRIS: I didn't do you a real favor by asking that last question.

All right. Get the goggles on, Dan. Appreciate it. Thank you.

And joining us by phone now is Ron Harrelson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He is a fire inspector.

And, Ron, good to talk to you. Thanks for your time this evening.

RON HARRELSON, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Sure. Thank you.

HARRIS: Hey, Ron, do you -- can you give us a clue as to -- boy, I remember -- it seems like it was about, oh, 6:30, maybe 8:00 this morning Eastern Time when I started to receive the e-mails about this fire. When did this actually start? Do you know?

HARRELSON: This major fire, the one we're talking about here in Malibu, started about 5:00 a.m. this morning West Coast Time, and we are still actively in a fierce firefight right now. We're getting pretty much no relief from the wind, as you heard.

HARRIS: Yeah. There was a bit of a break earlier, but I think everyone anticipated that the winds would kick up again. And talk to us about why that makes battling this fire -- any fire -- so difficult.

HARRELSON: Because there's no clear direction of the fire. You're getting erratic winds and swirls. We're getting gusts up to 60 miles an hour at the height of these winds today, and they die down for a little bit, but then we're getting spot fires. There are fires that would start well ahead of the main body of the fire, embers landing on rooftops, in trees, and now you've got multiple fires in a huge area.

HARRIS: Do you know what started this?

HARRELSON: We don't know the exact cause right now. It could possibly have been downed power lines. When the high winds happen, we get a lot of calls for downed power lines, and the first arriving units here in Malibu did discover some wires down in an area where the fire started.

HARRIS: Do you attack this fire differently in the evening than you would in daylight hours?

HARRELSON: We continue our efforts on the ground and in the air. I know our helicopters, depending on the wind conditions and at the pilots' discretion, and the incident commander will make that call. Nighttime presents new hazards as far as visibility with the smoke and fires and things of that sort. So we have to be careful with that, and we'll just continue our efforts throughout the night.

HARRIS: What are your prospects for containment? The last word we received was that the fire was now 0 percent contained.

HARRELSON: That's correct. That's because we still have open flame fronts that are still actively burning, and we have not created or had the opportunity, due to the winds pushing this fire, to put a line around this fire, so we could try to contain or control it.

HARRIS: Boy, Ron Harrelson, Los Angeles County fire inspector, with us.

Ron, thanks for your time this evening.

HARRELSON: Thank you. Be safe.

HARRIS: And you too. You too.

HARRIS: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, the wells are running dry in Georgia literally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SONNY PERDUE, GEORGIA: On top of that, we're also mired in a frustrating manmade disaster of federal bureaucracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Well, the governor isn't laying the blame on nature, but on Washington. The story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: You know, most Georgia lakes are nothing but big puddles, and tonight, the state's water supply keeps dwindling. Eighty-five counties are now in a state of emergency. And if dealing with the drought isn't enough, the governor says he's also facing a federal bureaucratic nightmare.

Here's CNN's Josh Levs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The descriptions are frightening.

PERDUE: Drought is a natural disaster. We're experiencing the single worst drought in North Georgia's history.

LEVS: How bad is it? This pole at Lake Allatoona is supposed to be a buoy. These before and after images show how Lake Lanier has changed. It's the biggest source of drinking water in North Georgia.

State officials estimate the lake has about three months of readily available drinking water left. Georgia's governor says this isn't just a story of natural disaster.

PERDUE: We're also mired in a frustrating manmade disaster of federal bureaucracy. The actions of the Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Services are not only irresponsible. I believe they're downright dangerous.

LEVS: Why? What are those agencies doing?

Some of Georgia's water flows to Alabama and Florida where it helps cool power plants and helps keep alive freshwater mussels and sturgeon, protected under the Endangered Species Act. Georgia says 3.2 billion gallons leave the state each day.

JONATHAN DAVIS, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: And we've been legally required to make those releases, and we've been doing those.

LEVS: But Georgia officials say the Corps can legally cut back on those releases. The state points out that the Fish and Wildlife Service says the Corps operates the reservoir by its own operating plans and that the Endangered Species Act allows flexibility and expedited action in a drought. But, so far, no change.

So Georgia's Republican governor is calling on his friends to pay him back for some of his political support.

PERDUE: We need the president to cut through the tangle of unnecessary bureaucracy to manage our resources prudently.

LEVS (on camera): And the governor says he learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina that a state should take action before a potential disaster arrives and make sure the necessary resources are there.

Josh Levs, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Well, Sonny Perdue says conservation can only go so far. He was in the newsroom earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERDUE: We're willing to conserve, but that doesn't do any good to conserve if the Corps and the Fish and Wildlife still send more than twice of the water needed down the stream and beyond that dam. We can't conserve our way out of this if they don't cooperate, and that's why I'm asking the president to intervene so that we can get some common-sense decisions out of Fish and Wildlife and the Corps of Engineers. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: The White House says it has already started drafting interim rules to deal with the endangered species issue.

You know, it was funny when Macaulay Culkin fought off burglars in the movie Home Alone, but it became all too real for one Florida boy.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LUIS GOMEZ, 13-YEAR-OLD BOY: Oh, my God! He's hitting my dog!

DISPATCHER: OK. Stay on the line with me. Luis. Luis.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HARRIS: More details on this crazy, crazy story coming up next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Well, they're just teenagers, but they're already heroes. A Scout troop jumped into action when a Pennsylvania hiker fell. The Scouts found Jane Scholl bleeding, disoriented, unable to walk, so they carried her three miles to a rescue chopper. They didn't know how serious Shoal's injuries were, so they made a stretcher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW SWARTZ, JR., EAGLE SCOUT: We laid the two sticks out, and we put the two sticks through each of our sleeves, and we just made it long enough for her body and just laid her down, and we just -- we all picked her up and carried her down to where the chopper was waiting for her.

CHRIS GALLAGHER, TROOP LEADER: They did an outstanding job. I believe they actually saved the woman's life.

MEGAN GALLAGHER, VENTURER SCOUT: I would need to use it, but I never thought it would come this soon, and so it was like, wow, I really helped someone today.

JOAN SCHOLL, RESCUED BY EAGLE SCOUTS: They were amazing. I'm going to send them a check just like so that they can go out and do something fun because they were amazing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Did you see the cut on her eye there? Scholl suffered that cut and a concussion, but other than that, she's OK.

Who knows? Maybe an accused Florida burglar did his homework. He just wasn't counting on a young kid missing a school bus that day.

Here's Laura Diaz from CNN Orlando affiliate WKMG with a unique story about being home, but not alone.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

Dispatcher: 911. What is your emergency?

LUIS GOMEZ, 13-YEAR-OLD BOY: Someone's trying to break in my house.

LAURA DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That frazzled voice is from 13-year-old Luis Gomez. After missing a school bus one morning, he was home alone. That is until this man, Mario Baez, paid him a visit.

GOMEZ: At first, I knew what to do because I saw those videos that tell you when a burglar comes in and what you need to do.

DIAZ: Gomez didn't answer the door after he saw through the peephole that he didn't know the man. Instead, he called 911, and that's when things got dangerous.

GOMEZ: He's getting in. He's getting in. He's getting in.

DISPATCHER: Where -- where -- go into a room or something. Lock yourself in.

DIAZ: Gomez did just that. First, he put whatever he could find in front of the bedroom door, and then he hid in the bathroom and locked that door, too.

Baez busted right through the front door, breaking the frame. He took a pillow case and packed it full with PlayStation, Game Cub and a laptop. Gomez then quietly called his mom at work.

YDIRA RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER: And he told me, "Mom, there's somebody in the house, and he's packing up the stuff."

DIAZ: Roxie, the family dog, tried to help by barking, but Baez kicked her.

GOMEZ: Oh, my God! He's hitting my dog!

DISPATCHER: OK. Stay on the line with me. Luis. Luis.

DIAZ: It all ended happily, though. The cops came and so did some relief for Gomez.

DISPATCHER: OK, Luis. Go ahead and talk to them, OK.

OFFICER: It's all right. Go ahead and hang up. Are you OK?

DISPATCHER: OK. Bye-bye.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And that was Laura Diaz from CNN affiliate WKMG. By the way, the police filed a litany of charges against the accused burglar, including cruelty to animals for supposedly kicking the family's pet.

You know, the keys were on the seat, the door was unlocked, but this car wasn't easy pickings for this criminal. It was bait. He took it.

Outrageous pictures you don't want to miss straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Boy, this next story. A Seattle area car thief thought he made a clean getaway. Little did he know things were about to get really messy for him. That's because police set out some baits, and he took it.

Here's Dennis Bounds of our affiliate KING.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DENNIS BOUNDS, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the scene back in March after a thief stole a car from Bellevue Community College. Police chased the man down as he made his getaway in a police bait car. A camera hidden in the bait car's ashtray captures video of a thief at work. He finds the keys of the unlocked car on the seat and takes off, thinking he's made a clean getaway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bait car starts talking to us as soon as somebody opens the door.

BOUNDS: His every move, even a celebratory fist pump in the mirror is being tracked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he doesn't know is that they're already vectoring in the officers to come get him.

BOUNDS: GPS technology tracks the suspects every move, including his bad decision to drive down a dead-end road, and he is forced to turn around. Police opened fire when the man drives the car right at them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there, you can actually see the bullet bounce off the windshield. He's been grazed, obviously aware now that things have gone horribly wrong.

BOUNDS: And about to get worse. Realizing he's not seriously hurt, the suspect is back on the run, but his getaway car is designed to be remotely shut down and the doors sealed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He goes for the car door, which is, of course, locked, and right about now, he sees the officers coming up with weapons drawn.

BOUNDS: Dennis Bounds, KING 5 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: You know, lots of people have some outlandish stories about having one too many drinks at the bar, but most of them never wandered into the wrong house, ate up all the food and crashed half- naked on the couch. You know, it's enough to make you say, "You've got to be kidding." That's 90 seconds away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Here we go. Salt Lake City and Adolf Hitler, two names you might not expect to see on one police blotter, but they're there tonight, and all we can say is you've got to be kidding.

Get a good look at this vase. It was a gift to the Nazi leader in 1933. Now a couple of years ago, someone swiped it out of a storage unit. It turned up this week, but authorities are looking into more than just a burglary. They're also trying to figure out if the American soldier who bought the vase and actually brought it home decades ago obtained it legally.

Kidnapped and held for ransom, it was going to take $350,000 to get Eldo (ph), the German shepherd, back. His owners are a wealthy older couple in Colombia. The captors played on their emotions -- listen to this -- sending pictures of the dog bound in chains with a note about how it cried at night. What they weren't counting on was Bogota police. They're well trained to find people in one of the world's worst kidnapping capitals, and they didn't do so badly with this dog either. Tonight, Eldo (ph) and family reunited.

Florida police say it was in the cards months ago. They gave state inmates a unique deck highlighting 104 of Florida's most troubled and troubling unsolved homicides and missing persons cases. Guess what? A tip came up during a prison card game. It was just the break Fort Myers police needed to make an arrest in a 3-year-old homicide.

And, finally, there he was, snoring, on the couch, almost naked with his clothes strewn all over. Florida police say Hugo Acosta had too much to drink and went to a stranger's house, popped open a window and crashed. Oh, but he made a sandwich before he went to sleep and even found some sheets in a closet to cover up with. He was sleeping in jail the next night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Boy, look at those pictures. Let's get another check of conditions out in California. Live pictures there from KCAL, our Los Angeles affiliate.

Bonnie Schneider is in the severe weather center.

And, Bonnie, talk us through conditions as we look ahead through the overnight hours and into tomorrow in Malibu.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, Tony, they are going to get worse. The winds will actually pick up into the overnight hours and the early morning hours and then subside again a bit in the afternoon, but really just a bit because current wind speeds right now in Malibu out of the Northeast, 21 miles per hour.

We're getting gusts as high as 30 miles per hour to the south in Long Beach at the airport there. So the forecast is calling for strong winds out of the Northeast. Those Santa Ana winds persist.

On Monday, we'll see wind gusts possibly as high in areas of Ventura County, up to 60 miles per hour. That doesn't mean we'll see those gusts throughout the entire region of Southern California.

Relative humidity will be very dry, 5 to 10 percent, and not only that. We've been talking about the wind, but what about the heat? Look at these temperatures for L.A. Tony, we're going to see temperatures soar into the 90s. This is October.

Ninety-two degrees on Tuesday. Notice the winds start to die down and come out of the East a little bit more as we get towards the middle of the week, but very hot and dry for tomorrow and for Tuesday.

HARRIS: Boy, that's for sure.

Bonnie, appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's get back to Dan Simon in Malibu for a final check before we get out of here this evening.

And, Dan, talk us through again, if you would -- smart man, very good, with the goggles on. Give us an update on conditions out there right now, winds on the ground.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, you know, you heard Bonnie Schneider talk about those wind gusts. We're feeling them now, certainly in the area of 20 miles per hour.

You can see the firefighter here in the background putting out these hot spots here at the Malibu Presbyterian Church, which, as you can see, has totally been leveled by this blaze. In terms of the smoke and how intense it is, this is why you need the goggles and you need the masks. If you can show this light here, I think that gives you kind of a good perspective, Tony. Can you see the smoke there...

HARRIS: Yeah, absolutely.

SIMON: ... sort of whiffing around by that light?

HARRIS: Yeah.

SIMON: That gives you an idea of the elements we are facing here.

The concern tonight: the hot spots. Crews, obviously, going to be out here throughout the night putting out any hot spots they might see, but these embers -- they're still flying around a bit. Some of these embers about a foot long, two inches wide.

That gives you an idea of how you can have some major devastation here at Malibu. That's what you had this morning with this church. As many as 20 to 25 structures, Tony, damaged or destroyed. So still a precarious situation out here.

HARRIS: OK. Dan Simon for us in Malibu. Dan, appreciate it. Thank you.

I'm Tony Harris. We leave you with some of the best pix from today's battle with the Malibu fire. Thanks for joining me in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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