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Thousands Flee As Wildfires Threaten Homes; Palestinians Face- Off With Israeli Police. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2015 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Two breaking news story this is morning. Take a look at what's happening in California. Wildfires are raging, firefighters are being injured, homes are burning and thousands are evacuating.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We couldn't stay there, that's for sure. We made it.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking this morning, Israeli police clash with Arab youths at one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem just hours before the Jewish New Year is set to begin.


PAUL: We had to get this video to you first this morning. Those are homes or what were homes at one point on what looks to be a beautiful tree-lined street. They are burning down one by one from these massive wildfires in California.

You can imagine when you look at this. This is probably a street where people used to walk their dog at night. And now you're walking by burning buildings and trees. This is an entire town that is destroyed. These images are riveting. One official calls these fires absolutely explosive, was how he characterized it.

SAVIDGE: The fires are chasing thousands from their homes and sending at least four firefighters to the hospital.

PAUL: We are so glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: Yes, so we want to get back to these two wildfires that are scorching thousands of acres here. Lake County about 100 miles north of San Francisco and another fire 70 miles east of Sacramento. This morning it seems to be only be getting worse.

I want to show you some new pictures. This is a hillside. Look at the lines of fire and smoke. Firefighters are really struggling this morning to battle the valley and the butte fires here. There doesn't seem to be any sign that things are slowing down. As I mentioned, four firefighters have been injured.

SAVIDGE: People are scrambling to get away from the area. Thousands fleeing for their lives as that fire threatens to destroy their homes. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could feel the heat from the flames.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything behind the gas station is gone. The school is gone. The store is gone. A lot of people have dogs stuck up there and they won't let them go get them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fire everywhere, our houses, our neighbors' houses, friends' houses. Everybody's houses are burning up. It's awful.


PAUL: Your heart goes out to these people, because I mean, it's not just fire you're looking at. Those are their homes that are burning down and everything that they own. One woman said it's hard to imagine losing everything that you own and having to replace everything. It's a scary thought.

People had to leave things behind and get out. One woman even saying pets were left behind, which is really, really heartbreaking. This video was shot by a fire chaser who's covering the butte fire. It's unfathomable.

I always think that the people that are watching this, because they might recognize, that's where my home was, or they might be seeing their home burning on television. I just feel for them.

SAVIDGE: It's a terrible way to learn, but that is the fact of the matter. We're going to talk to that photographer who's chasing the fire, by the way, on the telephone. But first here are more details of those fires and how they burn.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Two massive wildfires burning in Northern California are spreading fast, threatening homes, property and lives. The so-called valley fire in Lake County, 115 miles west of Sacramento spread from 50 acres to 25,000 in just over 10 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a reminder this is how the conditions are in California right now. With the temperatures and low humidity, four years of a drought, conditions are very extreme.

SAVIDGE: Four firefighters were injured in the valley fire. They've been transported to the UC Davis Burn Treatment Center where they are in stable condition. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The firefighters there I'm sure they are emotionally drained, physically drained after being stuck in a situation where, you know, your life is on the line doing your job.

SAVIDGE: Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for many communities in the fire zone. A shaken Joyce Ream got out just in time.

[06:05:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were stuck in the middle of the fire for a while and couldn't go either way. Near where we were stuck, we saw the flames going up the hill toward our house.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, the butte fire about 70 miles east of Sacramento has grown to 65,000 acres, also fuelled by dry conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within 15 minutes, it was seen in the backyard above those trees and these trees were all on fire when I left. It all came up in minutes.

SAVIDGE: More than 6,000 homes are being threatened there, some already destroyed. In both fires residents say they had very little time to escape the fast-moving flames.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We smelled the smoke and went outside. Our neighbors were in a panic. They told us to leave. We went across and helped them get their important things out of their home. Their barn, unfortunately, burnt down.


PAUL: Dave Mills, a fire photographer joining us now via the phone from California. Dave, before we talk to you, I want to play some of the video that you shot real quickly. Let's look at this.


PAUL: You can hear the crackling. You saw a car engulfed. This is somebody's house engulfed. This looks like a pretty put together neighborhood, I would say. It looks like a community where people were probably very close.

Can you help us understand, Dave, what you are seeing firsthand when you're in that situation and what it feels like?

DAVE MILLS, FIRE PHOTOGRAPHER (via telephone): Well, we're in Middletown, California right now. I'm at the intersection of Armstrong and Stewart. It's a small town. I'm unsure of the population. Everywhere you look there's four or five houses burning. The resources are spread thin.

There are 3,000 firefighters on the butte fire. There are probably 3,000 firefighters on the fire that's east of this fire. Resources are coming in. They're doing the best job they can with what they have.

PAUL: Have you talked with any of the residents there? MILLS: There are no residents here. Earlier we were on the butte fire in San Andreas and we came over here. We got here about 10:00. They evacuated this entire town and several of the towns around this one. We have not seen any residents in this town.

PAUL: I know that you specialized in photographing fires. Help gauge this fire compared to others that you have seen. Help us understand what you're thinking when you look at all of this.

MILLS: We haven't seen a fire like this before. There are literally probably hundreds of houses -- when the sun comes it, it will be amazing to see what the devastation has been. We haven't seen a fire like this ever before. I'm sure there are a lot of firefighters here that have never experienced this before themselves.

PAUL: You're so up close. I'm wondering, one, how the air quality is. I would think it would be hard to breathe at some points. And two, are you ever in a situation where you're fearful for your safety?

MILLS: No. You've got to be aware of your surroundings. The air quality is very smoky. It's heavy dust. You can see it in the headlights of all the weeks here. You have to be completely aware of your surroundings, of what's going on around you. Safety is the first thing.

PAUL: Dave Mills, we so appreciate you bringing us these pictures and helping us understand what's going on for those folks out there in California, not just the ones losing their homes, but the ones working so hard to fight these fires. Thank you for being with us. I appreciate it.

MILLS: All righty, thank you. These guys are doing the best they can with what they have. Thank you.

PAUL: Thoughts and prayers to everybody out there and do take good care of yourself and be safe. Thank you, Dave.

I want to bring in CNN's meteorologist, Derek Van Dam now. What is the weather looked like for these folks here who are working so hard to try to put these things out?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Christi, you know, I think in the short-term we still have heat, triple digit heat to contend with and low humidity values. But it will get better.

But I think it's really important that we step back for a moment and have that moment of empathy not only for the firefighters but the people who are losing their homes.

We came across this image on social media. Welcome to Middletown, population 1,323, up in flames.

[06:10:07] I mean, this stuff is heartbreaking, very difficult to see. Look at what we've got going on at the moment. We have roughly 35 forest fires over the western half of the United States. Two particular fires that we're focusing on our attention are the butte fire, 15 percent containment but the valley fire.

This is the one that's burning to rapidly out of control. It's a very sporadic fire. It has grown in size almost exponentially. It's amazing to see how quickly this fire grew, 50 acres to 25,000 acres in two hours.

The good news, as I mentioned earlier, the weather is going to start to cooperate by the middle of this week, bringing much-needed rainfall to Southern California to help battle the blazes. Christi, back to you.

PAUL: It can't come soon enough. Derek Van Dam, we appreciate it. Thank you.

SAVIDGE: The other breaking story that we are monitoring this morning, Israeli police clash with Palestinians in one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem. We're going to go live to Israel for a report there, next.

Plus, countdown to the next GOP debate right here on CNN three days as the candidates hold rallies to get their messages out. NEW DAY kicks off a full day, live coverage.

Also, all eyes on that defiant Kentucky clerk. She's set to return to work tomorrow. Will Kim Davis block any more marriage licenses? We'll have a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied. And you are a strong people.



[06:15:10] SAVIDGE: Breaking news, violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have left dozens injured in the streets of Jerusalem. The fighting erupts after this.


SAVIDGE: That is new video that was obtained by CNN, capturing Israeli police storming the mosque that's considered one of the holiest sites in the world after police say that Palestinian protesters barricaded themselves inside and threw rocks and fire bombs at those who approach.

CNN international correspondent, Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem with the latest. Oren, what's going on?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin, after hours of clashes this morning that started early and ended just a short time ago, the old city of Jerusalem is once again quiet, or at least relatively quiet. Police say early this morning around 6:45 they learned that a number of Palestinian protesters had barricaded themselves inside the mosque, throwing stones and fire bombs at whoever who would approach.

Police stormed the mosque to clear out those protesters around 6:45, but then those clashes that erupted there spilled over onto the streets of the old city and lasted hours.

We've learned that dozens of Palestinians have been injured in those clashes. But again, Martin, at this point the old city once again quiet after these clashes. All of this begins hours before the Jewish New Year.

SAVIDGE: And this particular area has seen clashes like this before. It is a site revered by both Jews and those of the Muslim faith, right?

LIEBERMANN: Correct. We saw a very similar clash six weeks ago on another Jewish holiday and part of it is how important this side is to both Muslims and to Jews. To Muslims it's known as (inaudible) or the noble sanctuary, it's one of the holiest sites in the world.

To Jews it is the holiest site in the world known as the temple mount and that tension there that friction is a large part of the source of these tensions and sometimes as we've seen this morning these clashes.

SAVIDGE: And also you point out the start of the Jewish new year, Jewish holiday. I have to think this is not a coincidence.

LIEBERMANN: We spoke with police who said there are about 650 visitors to the temple mount this morning. We've learned one of those visitors is a right wing politician. His spokesman says he went up there to pray along with a number of other Jews who went up there to pray.

Now Muslims see that as a provocation, as an attempt to reclaim that as Jewish. That is the source of a lot of these tensions. We've seen that movement to pray on the Jewish holiday here. It seems to be very much connected here -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: All right, Oren Liebermann, thank you very much. We'll continue to monitor this situation. Thanks.

PAUL: So three days to go and counting to the GOP debate here on CNN. Candidates are out in force this weekend. NEW DAY kicking off a full day of live coverage as some candidates are saying they're going to amp up their aggression for this debate, while Trump is saying, I'm just trying to be nice.

Plus, a grizzly scene in New York, a man malled by a pair of pitbulls, the consequences to the owner of those dogs, stay close.


[06:21:57] SAVIDGE: Couple of other stories that we are covering today. Phoenix police say a 19-year-old man arrested in connection with a rash of freeway shootings is not a prime suspect. But he has been booked on an unrelated drug charge.

PAUL: At least 11 vehicles have been struck by bullets or other objects over the past two weeks. Most of the incidents were along this busy stretch of Interstate 10 through downtown.

And in New York, I want to forewarn you this is tough video to see. Owners of two pitbulls facing multiple charges after the dogs viciously attacked a 62-year-old man on a Bronx street. His injuries were so severe that police gave him his last rites.

It appears he will survive at this point. It is not clear what provoked the attack, but we do know at one point, at least eight people tried to pull those dogs off of him.


ANNOUNCER: The division champion of the world, the one and only --


SAVIDGE: That would be Floyd Mayweather who ended his boxing career last night with a decisive 12-round win against Andre Berto. Mayweather retires undefeated with 49 wins. That ties the record of the late Rocky Marciano. We'll talk more about Mayweather in a few minutes with Coy Wire in sports.

And we continue to monitor our breaking story out west. That's the raging wildfires that are burning out of control in California, the latest straight ahead.

PAUL: Also, we're keeping our eye on violent fighting in Jerusalem at one of the holiest sites. Another update for you on that after the break, just really riveting video here.

Also, back in the U.S., GOP candidates are getting ready to hit the stage for the big debate right here on CNN. We're going to take you out west for a live preview.



PAUL: Listen to the crackling, the wind, the fire. This is one of two breaking stories that we're following this morning. You're looking at California right now, where thousands of people are evacuating their homes as these two wildfires spread across California.

The valley wildfire spread from 50 acres to 25,000 acres in ten hours. The butt fire now at 65,000 acres burned. Four firefighters, two have been injured. They are in stable condition right now. Fires have destroyed least 85 residences and they're still threatening 6,000 homes.

SAVIDGE: The other breaking news story we are following, dozens have been injured at violent clashes on the streets of Jerusalem. The fighting erupted after Israeli police stormed a mosque, which is one of the holiest sites in Islam.

Protesters reportedly barricaded themselves inside and threw rocks and fire bombs at those who approached. This comes hours before the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah, which begins later this evening.


PAUL: Can you make that out there? GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump visiting a tailgate party at a college football game in Iowa yesterday. You knew that wasn't going to be tamed.

SAVIDGE: Really.

PAUL: This is the CNN Republican primary presidential debate, just three days away now, big weekend in the race for the White House. Republican and Democratic hopefuls are out in full force across the country, talking about their issues.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you guys talk about?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just general. We talked about education. He's a very talented guy. We talked about education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get any policy ideas out of the meeting?

TRUMP: We really focused on education. They've done a great job in Iowa.