Return to Transcripts main page


Hot on the Trail; School Scare

Aired October 26, 2007 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hot on the trail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This person has done this before.


ROBERTS: A rise in reward for the arsonist who touched off days of terror in California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to have 15 minutes with the guy alone.


ROBERTS: School scare.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They should notify kids, you know, kids, you know, parents.


ROBERTS: Another student killed by a super bug.

Plus, home improvement, the biggest renovation job ever in space, going on right now, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And good morning. Welcome back. Thanks for joining us on this Friday, the 26th of October. I'm John Roberts.


There's some mixed news to report from the fire zone in Southern California. The wildfires are dying down. Several of them, 100 percent contained. Others well on the way to containment.

And while some people are allowed back to their communities, the bad side is that the number of people who have died in these fires has now climbed. At least seven people now reported killed. Also they're closing Qualcomm Stadium as a shelter today. The last few hundred evacuee will be moved to a nearby fairground and then on to more permanent housing. Also a $250,000 reward is now being offered in the search for what authorities are calling an expert arsonist accused of setting the Santiago Fire, that one burning in eastern Orange County -- John.

ROBERTS: Firefighters have been inches away from the flames, fighting nonstop for five straight days now. Close to 800 crew members were fighting to save a resort in running springs where the slide fire has blackened close to 12,000 acres. More incredible pictures for this your morning, a mansion in Poway, California. Firefighters hosed it down trying to save it Monday, but they couldn't. All that remains now of that are just a few black pillars.

And families are returning home to find nothing left. An estimated 280 homes like theirs were obliterated in Rancho Bernardo. Federal, state, county and city agencies also setting up a one-stop relief center, set up to help families get financial assistance in one place.

As we said, 250,000 being offered for the person who started the Santiago Fire in orange county. That fire destroyed close to a dozen homes and forced thousands of people to leave, and sent 1,000 firefighters into danger.

CNN's Keith Oppenheim is live in Orange County now with the latest developments for us.

Good morning, Keith.


And authorities from the ATF, the FBI, as well as Orange County, are working together, and they say that they have found two remote locations where, on Sunday night, they believe, this big fire was started, and it has caused a lot of damage. Not just 23,000 acres, but there are more than 1,000 firefighters on the line trying to protect 3,000 homes. Authorities are telling us they are quite sure that whoever started this fire knew what they were doing. They believe this could have been an expert arsonist.

Chip Prather of the Orange County Fire Authority said this fire has not only caused a lot of damage, but it's also drained resources.


CHIEF CHIP PRATHER, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY: I wonder, frankly, if we didn't have this fire here, this arson-caused fire here, how many of our resources might have been available to respond to other parts of the state and how many people might be alive today had our firefighters fighting fire here been able to be in San Diego.


OPPENHEIM: There is a reward sum now of $250,000, a quarter million bucks, in part because a California radio station contributed $100,000 on top of what government agencies are offering. They're trying to find someone who knows something, and there's a phone number to call. It's 1-800-540-82, an arson tip line. They've had a couple hundred calls so far, John, but no suspects at this point.

Back to you.

ROBERTS: Everybody keeps chipping in to that reward money, wouldn't be surprise to see it continue to go up. But do police think it's going to be hard to catch this arsonist?

OPPENHEIM: It's very difficult to catch an arsonist in a case like this, because it really requires that someone who has seen something or has some information to come forward. That's the reason for the very large amount of money that they are offering. They're trying to lure information out of someone who has connections to the arsonist or arsonists.

Back to you.

ROBERTS: All right, and maybe as that pot keeps on increasing, people may be more inclined to come forward.

Keith Oppenheim this morning in Orange County. Thanks, Keith. We'll check back in with you a little bit later -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, the superbug may be responsible for another student's death. This time it's a seventh-grader in New York City, and there are more cases being reported around the county now as well.

AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho has details for us -- Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran. Good morning.

This one happened right in our back yard. The latest victim went to school in Brooklyn, New York. His identity hasn't been officially released, but we have confirmed his name is Omar Riviera, a 12-year- old seventh-grader. It is believed he died after contracting the dangerous and drug-resistant staph infection, widely known as the superbug. Now a classmate talked about the day he noticed something was wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was at lunch, and then he had told me something about something that was on his leg, and he had, like, a whole bunch of stuff on his back, so then I didn't know what to do. So I sent him to the nurse. And from that, I never saw him again.


CHO: It can be scary for kids. And all indications are the New York school where it happened will remain open today. That's because health officials here in New York say they have no reason to believe other students are at risk.

Now the so-called superbug has been around for years, but recently gained national attention after a 17-year-old Virginia student died earlier this month. Since then, several other cases have been reported across the country, including a 5-year-old girl in Tennessee, who this morning remains in critical condition.

Now the staph infection, historically common in places like jails, gyms, hospitals and nursing homes, is transmitted mainly through contact with human hands. It's popping up in schools now, which is a big concern to parents. Cleanliness really is the key to prevention.

Take a look at your screen. The best way to avoid getting it, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or a hand sanitizer. If not that bacteria can spread fast. Cover cuts and scrapes and avoid contact with other people's bandages. And avoid sharing towels, razors and other personal items.

Now as for why this is getting so much attention now, health officials says they're not exactly sure whether there are more cases or whether recent news reports have simply increased awareness about it. One interesting statistic is that even though health officials say deadly staph infections in children are rare, the superbug may actually account for more deaths in the U.S. each year than HIV/AIDS.

Right now, Kiran, a bill is making its way through Congress to provide $5 million in federal funding to schools. It has passed the Senate, but according to Democrats, it could face a presidential veto.

But as we talked about earlier, the advice seems pretty simple. Wash your hands, stay clean. I know that can be a challenge for kids, but that is the best advice.

CHETRY: Yes, no one wanted to take a video camera around our high school locker rooms, I'm sure, right, Alina, back in the day either.

All right, well, we're going to discuss more about this with a public health official as well, about why we're hearing more of these cases, coming up in about 15 minutes.

Alina, thanks.

CHO: You bet.



CHETRY: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, the hunt for an arsonist.

Well, they have some knowledge about where you might want to do the most damage when you set a fire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want my true feelings? I'd like to have 15 minutes with the guy, alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: Just who set the massive Santiago Fire? The reward now up to $250,000. The latest on the investigation ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: At 15 minutes past the hour, some of the most compelling shots from the fire line now. Choppers and planes tried to drown the flames from above near the Magic Mountain Amusement Park, the so-called Magic Fire. Some of the largest air tankers were able to drop more than 7,000 gallons every 15 minutes. That's that DC-10 that Chris Lawrence told us about yesterday. The sky turned bright orange as flames came over the mountains in Irvine, California.

I-Reporter Tyson Paul took this from a nearby highway, as the fire began to overtake the area on Wednesday.

And devastation along the border. These pictures were taken as border patrol agents tried to secure a house and ranch. A skeleton of a burned out RV remains on the side of the road there. A trailer park completely wiped out.

And remember, we love you to send us in your i-Reports. The address is Of course, though, when you're taking these pictures, never put yourself in danger. We'd appreciate that even more than getting your i-Report -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, officials in Orange County, California this morning are on the trail of an arsonist. They says that the Santiago Fire there was deliberately started, likely by someone who knew what they were doing.


PRATHER: The person or persons who did this either are exceptionally lucky or they have some knowledge about where you might want to do the most damage when you set a fire.


CHETRY: ATF special-agent-in-charge Carl Vasilko is the lead investigator in this case, and he joins us this morning.

Thanks for being with us this morning, Carl.


CHETRY: Without giving too much away, can you explain what it is about this fire that makes investigators so sure that they're making those types of statements, like they either got really lucky or knew exactly what they were doing?

VASILKO: Kiran, as you've already stated, there's two separate points of origin that have been identified for this fire, which is an indication of arson. CHETRY: All right, this fire so far burning 26,000 acres, 22 buildings destroyed, and at least four firefighters, possibly more at this point, injured in this. Will they eventually be able to be prosecuted as well when you catch whoever you believe is behind this, not only for arson, but also for these injuries and damage?

VASILKO: Well, Kiran, that's obviously something that we'll look at when we get to that point, but there's a very large team of investigators here. The Orange County Fire Authority and the Orange County Sheriff's Department have done an outstanding job. Our ATF personnel out of Los Angeles field division have been here, and now we've dispatched our national response team to provide some additional resources, on the hopes we can determine who did this and prosecute them.

CHETRY: You guys have set up a tip line. So far you've gotten more than 250 calls. Anything that's leading you to be able to put together a profile of who you may believe is behind this, any new leads?

VASILKO: I mean, there are a large number of leads coming in. Every one of the leads is going to be pursued. Of course we're looking at all of those aspects that you mentioned, the profile and such, but primarily we're completing the work at the crime scene, and we're going to pursue those tips aggressively, so I strongly encourage anyone in the area who has any information regardless of how important they feel it is to call that tip line. There's a sizable reward out there for information leading to the arrest of the individual, and I would strongly encourage them to make that phone call.

CHETRY: Yes, it's gone up to $250,000, a lot of individuals and organizations giving money as well as the authorities -- because of just how many people have been devastated by the impact of this fire that you believe was intentionally set. Is it going to come down to somebody just turning somebody in, dropping a dime on them when it comes to finding out who's behind it?

VASILKO: Well, it's possible that that would be the break, but there's a lot of evidence. There's a lot of tips that we've already looked at, leads that we've followed. We're going to continue to follow those, and until we reach a conclusion.

CHETRY: All right, special agent Carl Vasilko with the ATF, thanks for being with us.

VASILKO: Thank you, Kiran.


ROBERTS: And a group of hecklers who say 9/11 was an inside job gave Bill Clinton an earful, and get an earful in return. See the confrontation for yourself, when AMERICAN MORNING comes back.


(NEWSBREAK) ROBERTS: Gas prices are up, oil over $90 a barrel. Are we headed to 100? Well, probably $100 before $80, what do you think?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to start strapping my oil barrel to me walking around the streets.

CHETRY: You'll be much safer, Ali.

VELSHI: I will be.

Oil is trading at -- it settled yesterday above $90 a barrel, at an all-time high, but then in overnight trading we've seen it go higher, $92.22 is what it has hit overnight. Not that far from $100.

Now there's the thing, most people who are experts at this feel that oil should be around $60 a barrel. That's what the supply and demand suggests it is. The whole $30 extra is all of the speculation about war and what's happening in the Middle East, which doesn't have much to do with the supply-and-demand issue. So the U.S. government and most experts say projected out until 2020 or 2030, based on what we know today, oil is still in that $60 a barrel range.

Now, it's not useful for you if you need oil to heat your house today, because you're paying the increased price. We're seeing gasoline go up. Right now $2.82 for a gallon of self-serve across the country, not as high as it's been, but most say you'll see that increase over the course of the next few weeks.

So my long-term good news is possibly good, and part of the reason why they think oil will be around $60 a barrel over the next 10 or 15 years, is because we won't depend on it as much. We'll actually be forced to find another -- what, do you don't think so?

CHETRY: He's, like, turned his body away from you.

VELSHI: Look at his body language. He's not interested.

ROBERTS: Are you're buying any of this?

VELSHI: I think when those at 90 bucks a barrel makes it worthwhile for people to research alternatives to using oil, and as you research more alternatives you actually could come one reasons to use other things other than oil.

ROBERTS: And they find reasons for those alternatives to be more expensive.

VELSHI: Unfortunately, on this one, you might actually -- your logic beats me on this, but I'm just telling what you the smart economists say.

ROBERTS: If they can make a buck, they'll make a buck.

VELSHI: Fair enough.

CHETRY: I would wear the oil barrel around this place. VELSHI: Yes, to protect me from the body blow.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly.

ROBERTS: Hey, I'm getting a little stressed out this morning. But I'm not the only one apparently.

And if you're feeling stressed out you're not alone, the problem is getting worse.

CHETRY: That's right. There's a new study saying that almost 50 percent of Americans are more stressed out now than they were even, say, five years ago. Almost half losing sleep over it, laying awake at night over stress.

ROBERTS: Maybe the price of oil is part of that.

CHETRY: Well, it probably is, because money issues are one that people worry about.

We want to know what you think. What keeps you awake at night? Is it your job? Is it your money? Your family and your kids? Or your health? Cast your vote for it at

ROBERTS: And the results so far, cha-ching, right now, 32 percent say it's their job, 44 percent their money, 12 percent their health, and 11 percent family and kids. So definitely money is taking the cake now.

CHETRY: That's right, and jobs related to that as well, because you need your job to make money.

ROBERTS: To make the money, exactly. Do you ever wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worrying about things?

CHETRY: I have very vivid dreams about worrying about things, so I feel like I work it all out as I'm sleeping.

ROBERTS: Exactly, given our sleeping schedule, I wake sort of late in the evening.

At any rate, a story coming up in our next half hour that you just can't miss.

CHETRY: The dangers of the so-called superbug, the MSRA staph. Well, a New York City seventh-grader died. He lost his life because of this drug-resistant infection. It's got a lot of parents worried.

ROBERTS: Yes, definitely. Ahead we're going to talk with New York City's health commissioner about the case, who is at risk and what people can do about it.

CHETRY: That story and more coming up, and the day's headlines as well, when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Beautiful live picture coming from the International Space Station this morning high above the earth as the astronauts are going to be conducting the first of five space walks, this one six and this one is six and a half hour jaunt out there as they put together, they take some payload from the "Discovery" and put it into the space station, using the robotic arm.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Can you imagine what a thrill it would be to be out there?

CHETRY: I think it's thrilling we can see it live while they're out there. That's just amazing.

ROBERTS: NASA has a great PR machine going in terms of bringing us pictures and the launches too, when they have the camera mounted on the external fuel tank. It's pretty spectacular stuff.

CHETRY: Welcome once again, it's Friday. We're back in New York. It's October 26th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. A new warning about shoes being used as part of the terrorist arsenal out today. U.S. intelligence officials are warning state and local law enforcement that terrorists are still working to use modified footwear to conceal bomb components and smuggle them on board aircraft and other transportation. The government advisory follows the discovery of bomb detonators hidden in shoes on board a bus in Europe last month. You recall that three years -- three months after 9/11 Richard Reid was arrested after trying to blow up a Transatlantic flight with a shoe bomb.

And strong words from the defense secretary about the war in Afghanistan. Robert Gates blasted military leaders across Europe not doing enough to help saying the war faces "real risk."


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I am not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over 2 million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan.


ROBERTS: The United States currently supplies more than half of the troops in Afghanistan.

CHETRY: The latest on the California wildfires there, officials there are now looking for the arsonist who they say set the Santiago fire in East Orange County. They say that whoever did it had good knowledge of what he or she was doing. Two small fires were reportedly set along a rural road and the wind quickly fanned the flames. Five arrests in three counties so far.

Also, new flare-ups for the Harris fire near Barrett Lake, California. At least 84,000 acres lost to the Harris fire, only 20 percent contained now.

And literally in the nick of time, a father talks about the race to get his family out of their Rancho Bernardo home alive. He woke up and found the fire was already there. He received a reverse 911 call at 4:00 a.m. but at that point he says the curtains were already burning. Last night on "LARRY KING LIVE" he took Rick Sanchez step by step through the evacuation where he used to call it home.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the front, this is where, so you aroused your daughter and wife out of bed right here and you take them. That's your car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was my beloved Boxster, but I had another car outside in the driveway, luckily, I wasn't ready to go for the fire. And as soon as I opened it up, I knew there was an inferno. I opened up the front door with my baby in my arms.

SANCHEZ: Your daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter and it just looked like lava flowing in the air.


CHETRY: You were with the family, I was with a family as well, a heartbreaking scene. Even though they knew and they were warned, there was nothing left, they said in the back of their mind they were hoping something was left, the same scene they got there, utter devastation, nothing salvageable.

ROBERTS: I didn't meet one person who said that's it, we're leaving. They all said we're rebuilding, it's part of the danger of living here but a great place to rebuild and everybody thankfully had insurance I talked to. I'm sure that there are some folks out there who weren't so fortunate.

CHETRY: In our case as well I think that they were prepared and tried to do their best but as we've talked about before, they called this fire the perfect storm, something you don't see very often, because of those Santa Ana winds.

ROBERTS: Just can't imagine who what those people went through.

34 minutes after the hour now. The Bush administration has taken the unprecedented step of placing sanctions on Iran's military. The U.S. is targeting the Iranian revolutionary guard claiming it uses front companies to obtain nuclear materials and that its elite Quds force supplies weapons to insurgents in Iraq. Assets are now frozen for three banks and several people in Iran but will the sanctions work?

Our state department correspondent Zain Verjee joins us from Washington. Zain, what's the Bush administration hope that these sanctions will accomplish and will they accomplish anything? Because so far, sanctions haven't done a whole lot.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the goal here is really to freeze Iran out of the international financial system and stop its controversial nuclear program.

Now will the sanctions actually work? The first thing is that there are no major assets that the guard itself has in the U.S. to freeze. But what the U.S. is hoping for really is some kind of ripple effect across the world, where banks worldwide will say look, you know what? We're going to cut off our business ties with Iran, and they're hoping that will have some kind of impact and hurt Iran, bring it to its knees and force it to the negotiating table. And some analysts that we talked to John also said to us these sanctions are actually going to hurt the Iranian people a lot more. Because the three banks that have been targeted by the U.S. are also used very widely by the Iranian private sector.


ROBERTS: Zain, these are unilateral sanctions at this point, the United States still trying to get the support of countries like Russia and China at the United Nations for broader sanctions that would have the weight of the international community behind them. What are the chances they'll have any success on that front particularly with Russia and china could who do business with Iran?

VERJEE: You've pinpointed the problem. What the U.S. wanted was a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran but the problem is that the two key countries here, Russia and China, are not on board. They were the last two rounds. This time around it's not clear if the U.S. can get them on board and send that unified message they wanted to Iran and say it's all of us and you're isolated over there. It's unclear that if that will work out.

ROBERTS: All right. Zain Verjee for us this morning at the state department. Zain, thanks.

CHETRY: Well, 9/11 conspiracy protesters tried to give former president Bill Clinton an earful in Minneapolis and they wound up getting an earful back. Bill Clinton was speaking at a fund-raiser for his wife Hillary's campaign. He was interrupted by the hecklers. They shouted that 9/11 was a fraud and an inside job and that's when Clinton struck back.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: What do you want me to talk about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9/11. It's a fraud.

CLINTON: A fraud? No, it wasn't a fraud, but I'll be glad to talk to you if you'll shut up and let me talk. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: There you go. During the fund-raiser, Hillary Clinton picked up an endorsement from St. Paul Mayor, Chris Coleman.

New concerns about a drug resistant staff infection after the death of a seventh grader in New York City. Just what is this Superbug and who is at risk? We're going to be speaking with New York City's health commissioner. He joins us next ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: 40 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning here on CNN.

You're Quick Hits now.

Hoping for a comeback. A Colorado Rockies fan showed his support by carving their logo in his lawn. Right now the Rockies are down 2-0 to the Red Sox, heading home for game three tomorrow night.

And it has been part of the White House since the 1800s but a huge tree came crashing down during some severe weather in Washington. Here you see a secret service agent checking out the damage. It nearly took out a nearby guard post.

Red white and blue are the only colors that remain in the wreckage of a wildfire in Escondido, California. The tattered stars and stripes were hanging from a window when a man came home to recover what was left.

Rob Marciano is back from the wildfires out west. He's in Atlanta this morning. He's got the extreme weather outlook for the west and the rest of the country and why don't we start out west, better than it has been for the past few days?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Most certainly. Winds are light and we're getting into a more typical weather pattern which is little systems that comes into northern California; northern parts of the northwest and that will push some of the ocean air inland in southern California. This is not a huge push but onshore as opposed to offshore.

Morning hours with this sort of pattern are variable but generally speaking most of the winds are out of the south at this hour, 3, 9 and 6 miles an hour from San Diego all the way up to Los Angeles. So certainly more manageable this morning than it has been of late.

Across the plains we have frost and freeze advisories and warnings out, this is early for this time of year, maybe a week or two early to see a frost in the plains so the growing season in some spots may be coming to a halt a little bit earlier than we might expect.

St. Louis getting some rainfall, this is not a severe weather event by any means. There's rainfall aside from the strong thunderstorms that moved through Washington the past couple of days, a more gentle rainfall this morning. But it looks like it will be a fairly persistent pattern over the next couple of days, Carolinas, Colombia, down to Charleston, Hilton Head getting more rain. The 48 hour forecast showing a substantial amount of rain in an area that could use the rain. We haven't said that in quite a while.

Back up to you.

CHETRY: You're right. We haven't. All right. Rob, thanks so much.

A New York City seventh grader has died and it was from an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, the Superbug, MRSA. Health officials yesterday confirmed that 12-year-old Omar Rivera was a victim of this so called the Superbug. There have been other cases across the country where students, particularly athletes have contracted the infection and some of them have died. So what is it and how concerned should parents be?

Joining to us talk about it this morning is Dr. Thomas Frieden. He is New York City health commissioner.

Thanks for talking with us this morning.


CHETRY: Are we just hearing about the cases more or is this becoming a growing problem?

FRIEDEN: Resistant infections and in particular, MRSA is an increasing problem throughout the U.S.

CHETRY: It is an increasing problem. Part of that you say is the over prescription of antibiotics so that, and the misuse of antibiotics. When we need them to knock something out they become resistant?

FRIEDEN: Increasing use of antibiotics both in humans and animals, as well as increasing number of people in hospitals very ill. When the CDC looked at this systematically, almost nine out of every ten cases of serious infection were in hospitals, and a tragic case like the one we had in New York City is extraordinarily rare, on the order of 1 per million.

CHETRY: That certainly is good news and hopefully will ease the minds of parents but in the meantime for Omar Rivera and his classmates a lot of fear out there. One of his classmates described the symptoms that Omar was experiencing even before he got sick, probably at least according to the one student as far back as two weeks before he got sick. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was at lunch and he told me something about something that was on his leg and we like a whole bunch of stuff on his back, so I didn't know what to do so I just sent him to the nurse and from that I never saw him again. CHETRY: So it sounds like in this case he did have visible wounds or something on this legs and back. If he would have been treated earlier, may this have been a different outcome?

FRIEDEN: Most staph infections are treatable. It's a very common infection that usually causes something that looks like a pimple, boil, and the treatment is usually fairly straightforward. If you're concerned, by all means go to the doctor, and there are easy ways to avoid it, washing your hands regularly, not sharing towels or razors or lipstick. It doesn't spread easily in the community. In the hospitals it's much more a problem.

CHETRY: Also there are some parents are very concerned about this, about the amount of information they actually got from the school in this case. Let's listen to one parent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as they died they should have notified kids and parents, get your kids checked out because that could be spread.

CHETRY: Should the school, should governments do more to raise awareness about this, but bf they think they have a problem, make sure that parents are getting that information.

FRIEDEN: Parents absolutely have a right to the information. We also have to be very careful to get the right information to them, to ensure that the family learns about it first, if the affected patients, if there are other people affected are appropriately treated and informed. One of the things that we've seen around the country are overreactions. There's almost never a need to close a school for health reasons. There may be so much concern or grieve being a tragedy such as this, there may be a need to do that, but for general principles, it's fine to ensure there's a good cleaning and have meetings to discuss it with the parents and that's what's been done here.

CHETRY: All right. Thomas Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner, thanks so much for joining us morning.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.


ROBERTS: Still ahead, new satellite photos seem to show that Syria is trying to cover something up, could it be a nuclear facility in strong opinions from the pentagon at the top of the hour.

A message to supporters of a republican presidential candidate, all that ahead on "AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: 48 minutes past the hour and if you're just joining us, here's a look at what's making news this morning. The latest now on the southern California wildfires. While favorable weather and reinforcements for firefighters has helped ease the danger in southern California, we're now learning more about the human toll from the disaster. At least seven people killed. Also, there is a $250,000 reward being offered for an expert arsonist, what authorities are calling the person suspected of setting the devastating Santiago fire in Orange County.

Also, they're closing Qualcomm Stadium now in San Diego. It was the temporary shelter for thousands of evacuees. Now they're saying a few hundred are left, going to be moved to a nearby fairground and more permanent housing.

An FBI bulletin warns that terrorists are working to hide explosives in shoes, that new alert follows the discovery of bomb detonators hidden in shoes on board a bus in Europe last month.

There is another recall this morning, this time it's some one million Bumbo babysitter seats after reports of infants falling out and suffering serious red injuries. The company, Bumbo International, stands by their product and says you need to use it properly. They're issuing labels for parents warning never to put these seats on tables or other elevated surfaces where babies can fall off.

Shuttle astronauts are outside of the space station right now. There is a gorgeous live look. You see the robotic arm and we see I think in the far right-hand corner for the astronauts, making progress on the installation of a docking bay. Earlier this hour they got a broken antenna out of the way. The docking bay will connect science labs from Japan and Europe to the station. This will be delivered on the next three shuttle flights.

And Boston fans may not have to wait 86 years for this one. The Red Sox have a 2-0 lead in the World Series. They're half way home to the title beating Colorado 2-1 in a pitchers' dual last night in Colorado. The series now moves to Denver, the Coors Field. It will host its first ever World Series game tomorrow night. It's not over yet for the Colorado Rockies. John, they just have a lot of work to do.

ROBERTS: Boy did they put their fire out or what? Rockies have been doing so well.

It's coming up now to nine minutes to the top of the hour.

We have heard enough, thank you. That's the message from to Ron Paul supporters. Veronica De La Cruz has been keeping track of the blogs and joins us with what's online.

He likes to mix it up and getting a little bit of feedback.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Yes, Ron Paul wars, big news on the political blogs. Here's what they're talking about, the ongoing battle between the conservative blog, John, also the rabid supporters of the republican candidate Ron Paul and is complaining certain users are overloading the forums with Ron Paul support. They have had enough. Leon Wolf, one of Red State's bloggers has said and I quote here, "If your account is less than six months old, you can talk about something else, you can participate in the other threads and be your zany libertarian self all you want but you cannot pimp Ron Paul." They have had an overload at the site. You know what? This guy is all over the web. He's definitely omnipresent. He's one of the most searched terms.

ROBERTS: He definitely loves to get in there and mix it up and you can bet people who are Ron Paul supporters are probably very enthusiastic about their support want to get the message out.

DE LA CRUZ: Very enthusiastic. is flooded with e-mail there, too. Also on the blogs from the tech world this is from, also all over the web, Facebook plus Blackberry equals what? I guess it would be what, Faceberry, John? I guess?

ROBERTS: There you go.

DE LA CRUZ: They're excited about the news they will be able to access Facebook features from their Blackberries. Users will be able to receive messages and updates instantly. Send out invitations, accept Facebook friends, capture photos and write messages. T-mobile will be the first carrier to offer features and Facebook is offering the download on its website.

ROBERTS: A reason to never put your Blackberry in its holder.

DE LA CRUZ: One more instant messaging feature. Do you have them on your Blackberry? I have Blackberry instant messenger and use it all the time.

ROBERTS: I get so much e-mail I don't need it.

DE LA CRUZ: I'll have to send it to you.

ROBERTS: Just what I need. Thank you, Veronica. Good to see you.


CHETRY: Well a high honor for the stage of "Star Wars." Yoda getting his own stamp. He was originally part of a set of special "Star Wars" stamps and the public got to vote on which "Star Wars" figure deserved an individual honor and that went to Yoda.

Drivers sink into wet cement just to make a point. Now they really messed things up. Why they're paying for their impatience, that's next on AMERICAN MORNING.

Also, the U.S. dollar continues to slide against major currency and it's only going to go lower. Ali Velshi has the word on our latest business headlines when we come back on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well things got pretty sticky in Wisconsin when a bunch of commuters decided they finally had it with the construction project so they drove through a patch of wet concrete on the road. Some of them then got stuck and now they have to wait even longer since crews are going to have to start over at a cost of $20,000.

ROBERTS: Sometimes a little bit of extra patience goes a long way.

CHETRY: There's road rage forever marked in the street at least until they pave over it.

ROBERTS: Oil keeps going up, the dollar keeps going down, some are worried about the big "I" inflation around the corner. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business."

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're paying for everything that's heated by oil and the oil you buy, the heat for your home, the factories, the trucks, all of that kind of stuff and your dollar buys you a little less. That's not the case if you're buying things only made in the United States but it costs nor buy anything that's important. So the combination of higher prices for oil, but lower buying power makes some people worry about inflation which takes to us next week when the fed meets on Halloween and the betting is overwhelming they are going to reduce interest rates again.

ROBERTS: Will it be a trick or a treat?

VELSHI: We don't know. What we do know if the fed reduces rates it sends the dollar down further. The dollar is at the lowest point it's been against the euro. Take a look. It will cost you $1.43 to buy a euro. $2.05 to buy a British pound so cancel the trip to London and stable with the Canadian dollar, $1.03 to buy you one Canadian dollar. I won't tell you what the forecasters say. John might get mad. You're probably going to see a low U.S. dollar value for a while.

CHETRY: Sorry.

ROBERTS: My daughter is going to England next week.

VELSHI: A little more money.

CHETRY: You have to give two credit cards instead of one.

ROBERTS: Another reason to feel stressed out. If you're feeling stressed out you're not alone. The problem is getting worse apparently.

CHETRY: Almost 50 percent of Americans say they're more stressed today than five years ago and almost half of you are losing sleep because of it, lying awake at night because of stress. We wanted to ask you what is it that keeps you up at night if you are having trouble sleeping? Is it your job, your money, worries about your family, your children or your health? Go to and cast your vote.

ROBERTS: Let's take a look at the results so far. Right now here they come. 32 percent of you say it's your job that keeps you awake at night, your money as you are waking up in a cold sweat at three o'clock in the morning, your family and your kids 12 percent and your health 14 percent. So your money way out there and of course like I said before, your job closely linked to that so those two economic things are what keep people awake at night and give them lots of stress.

Look at the story coming up in our next half hour now that you just can't miss. Are apes, monkeys and other primates in danger of extinction? The survey says yes that not only is the planet in peril but primates are in peril as well.

CHETRY: That's right. And so what are the reasons behind it? We're going to take a look at that story ahead. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

ROBERTS: Up in smoke. A sharply higher death toll and rising reward money for an arsonist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to have 15 minutes with the guy -- alone.