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Raging Wildfires Burn Homes, Towns Evacuate; Arab Youths, Israeli Police Clash; Countdown to the Big Debate; Havana Sprucing Up for Papal Visit. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:05] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: We're live with the developments.

Plus --

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: GOP hopefuls out in force this weekend trying to take down Donald Trump. This, of course, all leading up to the big debate.


JAMES BLAKE, FORMER TENNIS STAR: I don't want it to be brushed under the rug. I want to keep talking about this.


PAUL: And tennis star James Blake does not want to sue for being tackled by police. He wants change. Can one make really make a difference, though?

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: The video you're looking at here is not just a fire. It's of homes burning to the ground, one after another in the middle of these wildfires in California. Reports this morning, an entire town has been destroyed.

And they're just riveting images. And we have to be very sensitive here. These are people's lives that are burning. One official actually called it explosive.

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

PAUL: You know, we are always so grateful for your company. Thanks for spending time with us this morning. I'm Christi Paul.

SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: Yes, here is where two wildfires are scorching thousands of acres, Lake County, about 100 miles north of San Francisco and another fire 70 miles east of Sacramento. It seems to only be getting worse this morning.

I want to show you some of the pictures that are coming in here. The hillside, just it looks like a line of -- look at this. I just can't even imagine what those folks are dealing with as these firefighters struggle to battle both of these fires. One is the Valley Fire. The other is the Butte Fire. There seems to be no sign that things are going to slow down for them.

We know that four firefighters are injured as well. People are really scrambling to get out of that hour.

SAVIDGE: Thousands are fleeing obviously for their lives as this 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 neighbor's houses, friend's houses, everybody's houses are burning up. It's awful.


PAUL: I mean, your heart just goes out to these people. Look at what was at one time probably a beautiful tree-lined street, where people walk those dogs she was just talking about.

And now, it's just row of homes burning. The fire came in so quickly that a lot of people had to leave everything behind. You heard that woman saying some had to leave their pets behind. I cannot imagine the grief they're going through right now as they see these pictures most likely on television.

This video shot by a fire chaser. And, you know, Martin, you've covered these. I always wonder if somebody's sitting in front of a TV and see an image like this, and say, oh my gosh that's my house.

SAVIDGE: They do. You know, people are desperate for any kind of insight. It's not the way you want to learn that this has happened to your home, but in many ways, it is how people do see.

We're going to talk to a forever who has been chasing this fire. We'll speak to him on the phone in just a few minutes. First, let's give you more details on the fires.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Two massive wildfires burning in northern California are spreading fast and threatening homes, property and lives. The so-called Valley Fire in Lake County, 150 miles west of Sacramento, spread from 50 acres to 25,000 in just over 10 hours. LYNNE TOLMACHOFF, CALFIRE, SPOKESWOMAN: That is a very rapid rate of

spread. Very dangerous situation. It's a reminder this is how the conditions are in California right now. And with the temperatures and low humidity, four years of drought, the conditions are extreme.

SAVIDGE: Four firefighters were injured in the Valley Fire. They've been transported to the U.C.-Davis burn treatment center, where they are in stable condition.

MIKE LOPEZ, PRESIDENT, CALFIRE LOCAL 2881: I'm sure they're emotionally and physically drained after being stuck in a situation where 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.

JOYCE REIM, WILDFIRE EVACUEE: We were stuck in the middle of the fire for a while, and couldn't go either way. And where near 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.

STEVE MORTIMER, CALAVERAS COUNTY RESIDENT: Within 15 minutes, we were sitting in the backyard and these trees were all on fire when we left.

[07:05:06] And they came up in minutes.

SAVIDGE: More than 6,000 homes 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.


SAVIDGE: I cannot stress to you how quickly things can change in fires like these. They can actually out race a speeding car.

Let's bring CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

And, Derek, what does the weather outlook for that area look like this morning? Because that's going to play a huge role in this.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. Martin, I know that people of northern California, the residents there are desperate for some good news on the weather front. It is coming but we have to be patient. This is the forecast radar imagery for the region. I wanted you to see some of the precipitation in this area. It's not going to bring us relief today.

However, in the future, I'm talking 24 to 48 hours out, that is going to change. We could see conditions improving drastically, because this is all remnants of an old tropical storm, tropical storm Linda. We talked about it roughly a few days ago, and that is going to combine to bring us an increase in humidity levels, lower our temperatures. But we again have to wait for the middle of the workweek.

Here's the Butte Fire, here's the Valley Fire. The one that we're paying very close attention to at the moment is the Valley Fire, the explosive nature is what set this apart from all the other ones, and the combination of both of these fires across the Central Valley have created a poor living standard for that region in terms of the air quality. We have several hundred structures still threatened by this particular wildfire. I'm talking about the Valley Fire at the moment. Of course we've got our ongoing drought over the western half of the U.S., 8 percent exceptional with the temperatures, starting to improve as we go forward. So, that would be the silver lining in this forecast -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: All right, Derek. Thanks very much for that.

We'll continue to follow developments out west and bring you more as soon as we have it.


PAUL: Another breaking story we're keeping our eye on this morning, these clashes between Israelis and Palestinians that have left dozens injured in the streets of Jerusalem this morning. The fighting erupted after this.


PAUL: Can you imagine? It's frightening to see. That's a new video we want to show you with you here, capturing Israeli police storming the Al Aqsa mosque. This is considered one of the holiest sites in the world. Police say Palestinian protesters barricaded themselves inside and threw rocks and fire bombs at people who approached.

Now, CNN international correspondent Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem with the very latest.

Oren, can you help us understand what's happening this hour right now?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, hours of clashes this morning in the streets of the old city, right around the Al Aqsa mosque, and that region. Those clashes have since quieted down. So, there has returned a relative quiet here. But this all started early this morning, around 7:00 local time, when police say they learned a number of Palestinian protesters have barricaded themselves inside the mosque using furniture to barricade the door and having firebombs, fire works and stones to throw at police as they approached.

Police stormed the Al Aqsa mosque to clear out the protesters and that's when these clashes spilled out on the streets of the city. Police using tear gas, stun grenades and batons. That left tens or dozens of Palestinians injured. But again, at this hour after hours of these protests, it is relatively quiet in the old city of Jerusalem once again.

Christi, this all comes hours before the Jewish new year here.

PAUL: And because of that, do they believe things have quieted down for the time being? Are they still on alert? What's happening?

LIEBERMANN: Well, it's always sensitive and police know it's always sensitive around a Jewish holiday. Police say there were approximately 650 visitors to what's known to Muslims as (INAUDIBLE), a noble sanctuary, one of the holiest sites in the world for them and known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the world.

Now, we have learned that one of these visitors was a right wing politician went there to pray, along with a number of other Jews who went there to pray before the Jewish New Year. Muslims view that as a provocation. That's the origin, or one of the origins of this friction, this tension that led as this morning we have seen, the clashes. So, that tension certainly hasn't gone away, Christi. Could it flare up again here? Anytime, always.

PAUL: All right. Oren Liebermann, we appreciate the update this morning. Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Crisscrossing the country just days before the CNN GOP debate. The Republican candidates, that is, are hitting the campaign trail.

[07:10:00] We're live at the Reagan Presidential Library as NEW DAY kicks off full day of live coverage.

Plus, it's a rush to get ready. Cuba preparing to roll out the welcome mat for a historic visit by Pope Francis.

Also, thousands of refugees searching for a new home. They're crossing border after border now one city says we don't have enough room to care for them.


PAUL: Yes, in case you can't tell, Donald Trump, GOP front runner, visiting a tailgate party at a college football game in Iowa yesterday. It was I'm sure lively as you can see. He was joined by other GOP candidates as well.

This is the CNN Republican primary presidential debate. Just three days away now. Republican and Democratic hopefuls out in force right now talking about the tough issues.


REPORTER: You were meeting with the journalist president. What did you guys talk about?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just general. We talked about education. He is a very talented guy. And we talked about education. He really has a good beat on it. REPORTER: Did you get any policy ideas out of the meeting or anything?

TRUMP: A little bit. But we really focused on education. They've done a great job in Iowa.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the greatest country on the face of the earth. I don't know about you but I'm tired of people tearing down this country and dividing us.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we talk about some of the major issues facing this country, all of you know that we live in a highly competitive global economy and we need the best educated work force in the world in order to survive.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For the first time in U.S. history, we are destroying more businesses than we are creating. We're destroying the businesses that create jobs, small businesses, family-owned businesses, community based businesses.

[07:15:05] GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm elected president of the United States, if I don't have a united Republican Party, do you know how much harder it makes it?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've also been a loud voice for saying that you need to have a -- we need to get rid of the tax code, all 70,000 pages. I'd replace it with a tax return that you could do on one page, one single rate for all taxpayers. I think that would encourage jobs to come back from overseas.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lot of the problems in places like Ferguson is due to the fact that people don't respect each other.

PAUL: CNN's Athena Jones joining us live from the site of CNN's GOP debate in Simi Valley, California.

So good to see you, Athena. You know, we hear a lot there on the campaign trail of them talking policy. How much policy do we believe they will get into in this debate?


Well, there's not a lot of time each candidate gets to talk about policy. They're going to have practice getting across their message in short sound bites. But you saw there, it's been a busy week. Folks were in Iowa, New Hampshire, the South Carolina. We know that Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie have events in New Hampshire today. Donald Trump has a big rally in Dallas tomorrow.

But a lot of the focus is, has already turned to getting ready for our big debate on Wednesday night. Take a listen to what some of the candidates had to say about that big event.


REPORTER: It sounds like you're expecting a bunch of sleepers when you get to the debate, what are you going to do?

TRUMP: No, no. No sleepers. Everyone is capable. Everyone is confident. And you do what to do. You know, I've been doing this for a long time and I want to make America great again. I know how to do it.

REPORTER: That sounds like a very different Donald Trump from what you used to say before. Capable, competent, talking about your opponents that way. That's a different Donald Trump.

TRUMP: I'm trying to be nice.

CARSON: Well, the nice thing is I'll be center stage this time. It will be more difficult for them to ignore me. So I'm sure I'll get more questions. And that will be a very good thing.

REPORTER: How are you going to break out?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we just -- we're going to do it like everything that we do, prepare and answer the questions that are asked. We look forward to one more opportunity to tell people who we are and what we're going to do.


JONES: Now, what's interesting about what we just heard there is Donald Trump saying he's trying to be nice. I got to tell you, Christi, that's the same day that he attacked Rand Paul as weak on Twitter and in speech. So, I don't know if we can expect to see Donald Trump backing down. That is not the Donald Trump he's shown us.

Also, you heard from Marco Rubio saying, look, we answer questions from voters every day. The thing is, as I mentioned, candidates are only going to have a few minutes to really get their messages across and it's so important. This is the biggest television audience any of these candidates are going to get a chance to appear in front of. That first debate could top that.

And so, they're going to have to use this opportunity to try to get their policy message across but also show that they're tough, maybe show that the nonpolitician side of them for the politicians. It's a big opportunity and a being challenge -- Christi.

PAUL: Yes. Athena Jones, even Scott Walker told CNN yesterday he hopes to be more aggressive in this debate. So, we'll see exactly what that translates to. Athena Jones, thank you so much.

And we're starting a full day of coverage here from the Reagan Presidential Library, home to the next GOP debate. Jake Tapper kicking it off with "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00 Eastern today, and be sure to tune to the next presidential debate hosted by CNN. It's this Wednesday starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: And as our coverage of the next GOP debate continues right here on CNN, we'll take a look at the first time the Republicans took the stage. And yes, there were fireworks. What will we see Wednesday? We'll bring in our panel of experts.

Plus, the king of Saudi Arabia travels to Mecca to get a firsthand look at the damage left by that deadly crane collapse, just days before the annual trip to Mecca begins.


[07:22:30] PAUL: Twenty-two minutes past the hour.

I want to tell you about this accident at the fairgrounds in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that left one maintenance worker dead and the other one hurt. These men were working on this sky rise, here it is. This is an attraction and the platform broke free and fell to the ground.

So, you see there. The men dangled by safety harness until they could be rescued. We understand that one of the men went into cardiac arrest from a head injury and later died.

SAVIDGE: Japanese police now confirmed that at least five people were killed in the flooding that has been ravaging parts of that country. A man's body was found in a submerged car. Some 15 people are still missing. Nearly 3 million people have been warned to evacuate.

PAUL: And in Saudi Arabia, the king visited the site of a deadly crane collapse at Mecca. And that was some of the victims and their families in fact. At least 107 people were killed, more than 200 were hurt. The king promised a full and open investigation into that tragedy.

Now, let's talk about Pope Francis. He's preparing to make his historic visit to Cuba and the United States. The city of Havana meanwhile is all abuzz with their necessary preparations.

Any papal visit to Cuba is a big deal, but this will mark the first time that a pope will address the Cuban people in Spanish.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more for us.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are in Havana's cathedral square. This is one of the places that Pope Francis visits on this first stop of this trip to Cuba and the United States.

And as you can see, let's walk over here towards the cathedral. They're getting everything ready at a furious pace, still lots of work being done, though. Streets being fixed up. Buildings being painted across the country, because this is a big deal for Cubans. You can see they're still repairing a lot of the facade of this centuries old cathedral.

And why this is so important for Cuba? Well, several reasons, this is the first pope from this hemisphere, first Latin American pope. First pope, even though two other popes have come here previously, first pope who will be able to address Cubans in native Spanish. And we all know, though, this is a pope that played in role in

improving relations between the United States and Cuba, urging Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro to make the deal that really ended 50 years of Cold War animosity. This will be his first opportunity to come to Cuba following this landmark deal. He says he wants to meet regular Cubans and reach out and talk to them.

And there's a lot of expectation about what the Pope will say when he meets Raul Castro, where he will meet former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and whether he will be able to push forward his efforts to improve the reconciliation between these two countries.

[07:25:09] But, right now, it's really just a race to get everything ready.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


SAVIDGE: Thank you very much, Patrick.

Our coverage of the next GOP debate continues right here on CNN. Donald Trump taking a commanding lead in recent Republican polls. With all eyes on the Wednesday's debate, rival candidates really change this game. We'll discuss.

Also, thousands of refugees searching for a new home. They're crossing border after border. Now, one city says it's running out of space to care for them.


SAVIDGE: We're following two breaking news stories this morning. California, thousands are abandoning their homes as wildfires spread across that state. The Valley Fire has now spread from 50 acres to 25,000 acres. Then there's the Butte Fire, it's grown to 6,500 acres. Four firefighters have been injured, but they are now in stable condition. Those fires have already destroyed at least 85 homes and 50 outbuildings. And they threaten over 65,000 more homes.

Tod Sudmeier is a fire photographer. He is joining us on the phone from California. We've been checking in with him from time to time.

Tod, what are your seeing now? Is it getting any better as we start to approach a new day?

TOD SUDMEIER, FIRE PHOTOGRAPHER (via telephone): Good morning. I'm a little bit south of the fire now. But I left there not long ago.