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Violence in Jerusalem; Protests And Clashes After Trump Announcement; Wildfires in California Drive Nearly 200K from Their Homes. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 8, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: Hello everybody. I'm John Vause, live in Ventura County where the biggest and most destructive of all of California's wild fires continues to grow at astonishing speed. Elsewhere new fires erupted on Thursday while others are slowly being contained.

ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST: And I'm Isha Sesay live in Los Angeles where we're following the response to Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Well the reaction to that announcement was loud and violent with protests erupting in the Middle East. Dozens were injured in the West Bank Thursday as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces. Authorities used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to quell the demonstrators. The leader of Hamas called it a new (inaudible) saying the peace process was "buried forever." Let's go right now to our own Nic Robertson who is outside the Damascus gate to Jerusalem's old city. And Nick, good to have you with us. We just shared those images from protests across several locations on Thursday. I know there have been calls for further demonstrations after Friday noon prayers. How high are concerns for violence where you are?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN REPORTER: Well last night when I talked to Mickey Rosenfeld who is the spokesman for the Israeli police, he said that at that time they were still considering what security measures they would take. The important decision would be, of course, would they put controls and restrictions on the flow of people into prayers here in the old city. So far, we're not aware of any changes there and the security where we are at here is relatively low. And what Mickey Rosenfeld also told me about the demonstrations that we saw right here in Jerusalem at least, yesterday, the numbers were relatively low. We were here and we didn't see any violence. There were a couple of arrests.

There was some pushing and shoving and sort of an ebb and flow with the police and tensions were there. But I think the general view was here in Jerusalem at least while there was violence and injuries and clashes in other areas in the West Bank, here at least it was relatively peaceful. That may set the stage for today. But, of course as you say, that the concerns are that if there was going to be a big day of violence over (inaudible) Hamas, for example, called for another intifa(pf) with Kurd Islamic (Inaudible), saying their fighters are ready and that it would manifest itself but today, Friday, in a much bigger way than we witnessed yesterday. SESAY: The concern, Nic you touched on the flow of people wanting to begin entry to the Holy site for prayers. In the past, what has been done in terms of measures being put in place to kind of control access at moments of heightened tension?

ROBERTSON: Yes, one of the things that's very contentious is to limit the number of people who can go in and limit them by age, men over 48 can go in. Anyone younger, unless they're below a certain age is restricted from going in. There was at last year huge clashes over the use of metal detectors of people were told, that Palestinians were told to pass through on their way to prayers and that led to huge clashes in and around the old city here. So, what we've witnessed before is restrictions on age or restrictions on controls on security for people during them and that has sparked violence before.

SESAY: Nic, we also know that there were two rockets fired from Gaza. They remained within Palestinian territory and they didn't land in Israel. I'm wondering what's being said about that and how great fears are that there may be an insurgence and increased rocket fire.

ROBERTSON: It is a concern. It is an undoubted concern. And again I think this is what the police spokesman was alluding to when I talked to him yesterday, he said that they were still analyzing and still watching and still, still figuring out what was going to happen. There was an Israeli response to those, to those rockets fired. We understand they were no casualties on either side but the Israeli message is very clear, that if there is provocation from the Palestinians, if rockets are fired or there is violence of any type, then it will be met and controlled. And that absolutely is the message today. So while there is concern, there isn't concern that it can't be handled. There's just a concern that there could be escalation and the consequences of that.

SESAY: So with that being said, we saw the scenes across several locations on Thursday. We just discussed two rockets being fired. They didn't you know leave Palestinian territory but they were fired and the concern is of an escalation and violence. With all of that being said and taking into account calls for further demonstrations across the Middle East, do Israelis believe this is an acceptable price to pay for the move made by the U.S. President? What are people saying to you?

ROBERTSON: I don't think the people here would feel it's an acceptable price to pay. For most Israelis they belive that the announcement by President Trump was long overdue. They welcomed it. Prime Minister Netanyahu called it courageous and other politicians here went further than that even. So to pay a price for what they believe and have accepted as being something that should be said and should be said clearly, there, there would not be an acceptable price for that. What there is, is an understanding that it could lead to tensions and that those tensions, they would seek to control. What we heard from the Israeli Prime Minister as well was trying to set aside concerns that somehow that this would change events on the ground here in Jerusalem. And he said that that wasn't going to be the case.

Everyone would have access to their religious. President Trump stress that there was still the possibility of a two state solution even though very (inaudible) Palestinian politicians like (Inaudible) said that essentially this was the worst position that President Trump had ever made in his life. This completely shut down the possibility of future negotiations on the basis of a two-state solution. So while the rhetoric, you know, has been very high, we're still, the events on the ground are really, I think to a degree, dictated by you know, other, other protests and therefore what, what does that leave in the terms of political space left to talk? A price to pay for what President Trump has said is think Israelis believe, genially believe, that this announcement was due and expected and has been welcomed. They would not expect to pay a price for it.

SESAY: Nic Robertson, great insight. We're going to continue this conversation across the many hours to come. So thank you for now. I really appreciate it Nic.

All right and now to our other major story, the California wildfires. Let's cross over now to our John Vause who is in Ventura, California. John.

VAUSE: Isha, thank you. Six major wildfires continue to burn across Southern California forcing almost 200,000 people from their homes. And it says a lot when the wind wildfire warning is downgraded here to a red alert that is down from the dire purple warning issued 24 hours ago because authorities were expecting this state's worst ever Santa Ana winds. But in some places, the worst never arrived and that allowed firefighters to get the upper hand on a number of fronts. In Suma, to the north of Los Angeles, at last report the creek fire was 10 percent contained, double what it was just a day ago. In the exclusive neighborhood of Bel Air, the (inaudible) fire now 20 percent contained and a mandatory evacuation order for most residents has been lifted. But new fires continue to erupt, the worst of them in San Diego. It's called the Lilac fire. It's spread though across almost 4,000 acres, it's moving at dangerous speed. At one point jumping Highway 76. So far we're told at least 20 structures have been destroyed. And here in Ventura County, the biggest and most destructive fire of all continues to grow, they call it the Thomas fire. So far it has swept across 115,000 acres destroying homes and building and again forcing tens of thousands of people to flee this area to safety. Well, for the very latest, Paul Vercammen is live for us in La Conchita. This small beach-side town, the flames reached it earlier today. Some people have been ordered to leave. Some people are staying there. Paul, what's the very latest from where you are?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER: As you can tell behind me here in La Conchita, there is a fire engine from Oregon who's helping in this fight. 2,500 firefighters on the line in this monster of a blaze. You can also tell that the wind is calm right now and that is good news. What had happened night after night after night is the wind would whip up long after sundown and start fanning flames everywhere. One of the focuses for the fire today John, was in the Northwest corner of this fire which was on the Car-in Carpinteria basically on the Santa Barbara County-Ventura County line. They did a marvelous job of holding there. We saw dozers digging fire lines, hand crews, and they even started to fight fire with fire there and they basically cut off the fire's advance. We know there's another hot spot near Ojai and you pointed out that

devastation. It is worth repeating. So 115,000 acres, that is the size and Orlando and Seattle combined. And somehow through all of this, you can hear in the background, they've been able to keep that major artery, the US 101 freeway and the important rail line going. Because they connect Santa Barbara, Ventura, with Los Angeles. So it has been a heroic effort in many senses because they've not lost any lives either despite this immense devastation. The worse December wildfire in California history, John.

VAUSE: It's, it's been incredible Paul to see how close those flames have come time and time again to those interstate highways be it the 101 here, the 405 in Los Angeles, 36 highway down in San Diego. What is the situation there now that there's been this sort of relatively calm period at least here in Ventura for firefighters to contain this blaze. How much of this is sort of under control at this point?

VERCAMMEN: Well, I'm always very reluctant to site containing control numbers specifically because I'm going to be frank with you. Firefighters have often told me a lot of times they don't update numbers because they just plain didn't have time to get it from very many different sectors of the fire. They're saying 5 percent contained right now on this Thomas fire. They seem to be getting a handle just using the eye test. As I told you we watched them make a dramatic stand in this dangerous Northwest sector of the fire. That was a problematic place. They did have to go through and order some mandatory evacuations of Carpinteria, California. That's the first city over the Santa Barbara County line. It's a beachfront city of about 15,000. So they are getting a handle on it but with all fires, especially this one, they cross their fingers because these unpredictable winds, Santa Ana winds, have just been devilish and have changed the game every single night John.

VAUSE: You made a good point Paul because I was listening to a brief a short time ago with one of the firefighters, one of the spokespersons. But they're essentially saying they are too busy to update these numbers. They want to save lives; they want to save property. The numbers come later which is why they're still waiting for this official assessment here in Ventura County. But the number they do have right now close to 500 structures, buildings, and homes and other build-other structures have been destroyed by this fire. But it is still early before they actually do that proper assessment. The focus now, saving lives and saving property. Paul, thank you very much for being with us live.

Tens of thousands of residents, as we've been saying, forced to flee this one county alone. Among them, Eric Rosenberg. He packed up his family, left almost everything behind because the flames were just getting too close to the house. Eric joins us now on the line. He's in a beach hotel in Carpinteria which Paul was talking about. So Eric, first up we're glad that you, your wife, Jenny, the rest of the family they're safe. But this was not your garden variety evacuation. Your wife 39 weeks pregnant as you headed out and drove through the flames. So take the story from there.

ERIC ROSENBERG, VENTURA CALIFORNIA RESIDENT AFFECTED BY WILDFIRES: You know so a neighbor actually knocked on our door at about 12:30 a.m. and woke us up. But before that we didn't know there was a fire beside of our house. It was about 4:30 a.m. we jumped in the car and drove to my in-law's house in Carpinteria where I am now. And we spent most of the day in Carpinteria. We went out for breakfast, the power went out a couple of times, but otherwise it was a mostly uneventful day until the evening. Around 8:00 p.m. my wife went into labor. So we called up the doctor and being that there was a fire along 101 we just heard to get back to Ventura to the scheduled hospital we were going to have to drive through the fire zone or we could go up to Santa Barbara. The other direction our doctor said no please come back to Ventura if the highway is open. So we hopped in the car and sped along 101 going toward Ventura and there was a, I would just say it was a bit of a scary drive having my wife in labor in the car with me. There were flames on both sides of the highway.

VAUSE: Wow.

ROSENBERG: But we made it through and the next morning at 6:36 a.m. our little fire baby was born.

VAUSE: Little girl right?

ROSENBERG: Yes, Mila. And we were, she was healthy and great. Although there was smoke in the hallways in the hospital, they actually yesterday went around and duct taped all of the windows to keep the smoke out with the sick people and babies, it was obviously a problem to have a smoky room. But, you know, we were just so happy to all be safe and together.

VAUSE; OK, so you're now in a situation where you are in Carpinteria and that is a small town right there on the beach. But that also at least part of that, there are mandatory evacuations underway and there's also this concern that you know, maybe, you know that there could be further evacuations ordered and you may have to pack up the family and head off someplace else.

ROSENBERG: Oh definetly. And our cars are still packed with everything. When we left our neighborhood, the fires were probably two or three blocks away. And I did get back to my neighborhood, six homes burned within about a block of me so it was good we packed up and took all of our stuff with us because we were very close to being affected. And we were-so our cars are sitting in our driveway still ready to go. The fires were probably five miles from where I am right now so we're definitely monitoring that because if it comes, you know, we got to go again.

VAUSE: This is getting way too close. Can you describe, just a little bit more what it was like. Your wife is labor. You're in the car. You're trying to get to that hospital and there are flames surrounding the vehicle on either side. It must have been terrifying. For all sorts of reasons.

ROSENBERG: Oh yes. Yes, my heart was thumping. My wife actually kept yelling at me to stop looking at the fire and keep looking at the road which I guess put a little bit of lightness in it because you know what it's like being picked on by your wife. But, she actually took a video of it. It was so intense, there was a point we drove through right in between La Conchita and Ventura where the flames were so intense that even on the other side of the highway we felt the heat through the windows. It felt like my face was right up next to a campfire. We were probably 50 or so feet away from the closest flames. So it was a very intense, very hot fire. It was everywhere.

VAUSE: Wow. OK, we we're happy to say that Jennifer, your wife, new baby Mila, and you have a two year old, who's name I'm sorry I, I've forgotten, but you're all doing well. Congratualtions. Great. And we just hope this is it for you guys and you can get back to the house which is still standing which is fantastic news and-

ROSENBERG: Yes, we're, we're still on a mandatory evacuation from our house in Ventura but we're hoping to get back tomorrow. So wish us all luck with this fire.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Thank you so much. Amazing story Eric, so thank you. Well now we'll take a short break here. When we come back Democrat Senator Al Franken. When he announced his resignation from the Senate, he did not apologize to all the women who accused him of sexual harassment. He said, he took a few parting shots at President Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello everyone. Well embattled U. S. Senator Al Franken says he's stepping down. Several women have accused the Democrat of sexual misconduct and lawmakers from his own party called on him to resign. He's denying some of the accusations but it is hard to deny pictures like this.

It appears to show him reaching for the breasts of news anchor Leeann Tweeden. She alleges Franken forcibly kissed and groped her on a 2006 USO tour. Here's what Franken said Thursday about some of the accusations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MINN.), MEMBER, HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE: Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset.

Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Joining me now in Los Angeles Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman and Republican strategist Charles Moran.

Welcome to you both. Good to have you with us.

Caroline, it took the seventh to come out before Democrats found a voice and said it is time for Al Franken to go. You heard part of what Franken said, essentially that he doesn't remember all of it as people say it went down.

He also said this, "I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator, nothing, has brought dishonor on this institution. I'm confident the Ethics Committee would agree."

What do you make of the way Franken is bowing out, one would say, begrudgingly?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's absolutely begrudgingly. That's a great term. He's obviously very angry. He didn't apologize to the women. In fact, he essentially said some of them weren't telling the truth so he perpetuated the myth that women make this up.

I'm sorry, but there are seven women who have come forward and they've all alleged generally the same thing, groping or unwanted kissing. So I think it was good that he stepped down. It took a while. It took 33 people calling for him to step down in the Senate --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: But they didn't start until the seventh.

HELDMAN: -- absolutely right. And in fact, both parties are being slow on this. But I will say that at least the Democrats have gotten Franken to step down and Conyers to step down. Republicans need to do the same. This is not a partisan issue. This is about women and this is about respecting them.

SESAY: Charles, I want you to weigh in but before that, I want you to take a listen to what Al Franken said because he touched on what Caroline just said. Let's play what Franken said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: There is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of the sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Charles, it's hard to deny that it is ironic.

CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, part of the problem here is once again, that Al Franken doesn't want to take any kind of responsibility, is just trying to deflect this was a self ingratiating speech. At this point we have actual acts that people are coming forward. We've got the pictures, we have the evidence of him actually doing these things.

I haven't seen any pictures of President Trump compromising himself in the same fashion that Al Franken has done.

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: -- you're saying that if there is no photographic proof that that somehow discounts what a woman alleges --

MORAN: Well, we've got a whole process here.

Is it the first woman?

It is the seventh woman?

There was actually great op-ed piece run in "L.A. Times" a few days a talking how Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party can't have it both ways. They're either going to -- you can't sit there and say well Republicans need to held accountable and need to resign while dragging their feet on democrats, saying there needs to be an investigation and there needs to be ethics charges.

Really in the last five or six days we have seen the Democrats start to weaponize this and come around and how fast they've turned on some of their members and we're seeing actually a lot of dissent within the Democratic caucus about how some people, based on racial lines, people like Congressman Conyers are being treated differently than maybe --

SESAY: Than Al Franken was.

Let's give Caroline a chance to respond because that is -- he's making a valid point. There are people pointing to a double standard in the treatment of Conyers and Franken and the fact that you did have Nancy Pelosi saying Conyers was an icon on one of the Sunday shows and it took seven women for the Democrats to call for Franken to go.

What say you, Caroline?

HELDMAN: Well, I don't see the double standard in the sense that they were both pretty rapidly removed. It did take may be a week and a half to come around on Conyers. But it happened. The difference is partisan. The difference is the Republicans are not holding Roy Moore and Donald Trump to account in the same way that the Democrats are holding their people accountable.

MORAN: Well, I see a lot of accusations directly targeted to Roy Moore. He's the focus of this. Donald Trump is the President of the United States --

[00:25:00]

MORAN: -- and the Left's tactics of trying to drag Donald Trump and probably that may be part of the reason why they moves -- why the Left has actually pushed Franken out so fast is a political tactic.

We have an election next week and it will be interesting to see what happens in Alabama. We have a situation where Roy Moore's not been elected yet. I hope he does not get elected.

HELDMAN: But the GOP is behind him and the GOP is behind Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MORAN: I think if you listen to the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives --

HELDMAN: The RNC, the Republican National Committee has given him 170,000 --

(CROSSTALK)

MORAN: -- the senatorial committee, Roy Moore has been resoundly (sic) denounced in all corners of the Republican Party.

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: -- President of the United States, who has thrown his weight behind him.

MORAN: I see a tweet and we know that the White House does --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: -- spoken out about saying he would rather see Roy Moore than seeing a liberal Democrat take that seat so we can't discount the president's words. Furthermore, Mitch McConnell, the leader of your party in Congress on Capitol Hill initially said he believed the women.

And then he said, turning a corner, it's up to the people of Alabama. So I think even senior members of your party have rallied behind Roy Moore.

MORAN: I think that this is the most weakest Republican candidate moving into a special election we've ever seen directly because Republicans and the establishment across the spectrum of the conservative movement do not want to support a candidate like Roy Moore and there is plenty of evidence to show the party is sitting back on its hands.

We don't know how this election will go. I can't vote in that election. I know how it would vote if I were in Alabama. But at the end of the day, ultimately the voters of Alabama will make this choice, not us.

SESAY: All right, Caroline Heldman, Charles Moran, there we must leave it. The conversation shall continue. Thank you to you both.

MORAN: Thank you.

SESAY: We're going to take a very quick break here. It's a very busy night. A day of violent protests in the West Bank and Gaza after U.S. President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Just ahead, where analysts say the worst may be yet to come. Stay with us.

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(MUSIC PLAYING) SESAY: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los

Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. We have some breaking news from London, where British prime minister Theresa May is heading to Brussels for Brexit talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. That's according to a spokesperson from 10 Downing Street.

Ms. May's Brexit secretary (INAUDIBLE) is traveling with her. You may remember that British negotiators have been talking with the E.U. over plans to maintain a soft Irish border. We do not know quite yet what the outcome is of those talks. As soon as we get more details we are going to bring them to you.

But the news coming in to us is Theresa May is on her way to Brussels to meet with the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Also making news this hour, in parts of the Middle East, protests and clashes following U.S. President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Dozens were injured. Israeli security forces used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to quell the protest.

Joining me to discuss this further from Tel Aviv is journalist Ronen Bergman. His new book is called, "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations."

Ronen, thank you for being with us.

RONEN BERGMAN, JOURNALIST: Good morning.

SESAY: Good morning. Let me ask you a question that I put to CNN national correspondent Nic Robertson. We have seen clashes on Thursday in several locations. We saw widespread calls for continued protests from other Arab nations, all in response to President Trump's decision to have Jerusalem recognized as Israel's capital.

If Israel ends up being less safe because of this move, will that alter Israelis' view of the president's decision?

BERGMAN: The short answer is, no, I don't think that nothing would alter Israel's response. I don't think the response was the right one. But yet this is the response, I would say, a very wide consensus from Right to Left, from prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the head of the coalition, the head of the Labour Party, Avi Gabai (ph), who all congratulated President Trump for recognizing Israel as the capital of Jerusalem.

I know or I assume that if demonstration spreads and more blood is shed, and the recent, I would say the night just a few hours ago, the Shin Bet Israeli general security agency, the domestic intelligence agency, has just given prime minister Netanyahu and the rest of the leadership and the defense establishment a severe threat to the outbursts of violence just today in a few hours' time, after the noon prayers at the mosques.

And regarding or following the weather forecasts that anticipate no rain. It might sound benign but the rain has an impact on the likelihood of violence and the likelihood is that is imminent and severe.

I assume that some people in Israel would doubt the wisdom in the president's announcement, especially when it comes on the background of no political and path of negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians.

I would assume that if Israel and the Palestinians were in the midst of some political discourse, where if there was some sort of horizon on new peace agreement, if there was some sort of hope, then these demonstration would be moderated.

But when the majority (ph) of the Palestinian people see no peaceful solution in the horizon, and while seeing the United States has evacuated the Middle East or at least giving support only to Israel and not to the Palestinian two-state solution, we are facing yet another gloomy time in this gloomy area.

SESAY: Ronen, Saab Erekat, senior Palestinian negotiator, said essentially the two-state solution is dead and effectively what he is looking at, one-state solution with equal rights for Palestinians.

Your thoughts on that, how realistic is that?

BERGMAN: It's not realistic at all. Saab Erekat, a prominent Palestinian leader, what he trying to do is basically threatening the Israeli public because he knows that Israel would never accept a one- state solution and equal rights for everybody because this is practically the end of the Zionist vision, of having a Jewish state which has a majority, a democratic (INAUDIBLE) has a majority to Jews, the homeland for the Jews.

What he's trying to say is that if Israel (INAUDIBLE) in that case, in that path, I do agree with him. What he's trying that if Israel continues to take a path of not agreeing, at least not in practice (ph), to the two-state solution, it would end up with only one state for everybody.

And that Israel would be forced to give equal rights to all of its inhabitants and therefore would agree at the end to a majority of Arabs between the big river and the sea.

Therefore, Saab Erekat is trying to say, I think, that Israel should be prompt in changing its political path, trying to negotiate two- state solution because not just for the Palestinians --

[00:35:00]

BERGMAN: -- but also for the Israelis, this is the only way to preserve the Zionist vision and the dream of a homeland for the Jews.

SESAY: A lot has been said in the aftermath of the U.S. president's decision, a lot has been said, a lot has been done. We shall be watching the next couple of hours very closely. Ronen Bergman, I'm so sorry we're out of time. We will keep this conversation going, though, in the days to come. Thank you.

Let's go back right now to John Vause who's following our other big story and has the latest on those raging firefighters -- John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Almost 2,000 firefighters have been trying to contain one blaze in particular, the Creek Fire in Sylmar (ph). We'll have the very latest now on that. John Miller is the deputy spokesperson for CAL FIRE. He's with us on the line.

John, last report we had about the Creek Fire, it was about 10 percent contained and that had been some pretty good progress over the last 24 hours.

JOHN MILLER, CAL FIRE: Yes, that's correct. We've been making excellent progress due to the winds that have diminished quite a bit throughout the evening and into tonight. We're putting it at 20 percent containment and just a little over 15,000 acres.

VAUSE: So only 20 percent contained, mostly because the conditions on Thursday were much better than expected.

So what are we looking at in terms of the next couple of days in the operations there?

MILLER: In terms of the fire (INAUDIBLE) direct attack operations out on the fire line, and they do that basically because of the continued winds. You don't want embers coming over that line. So we're using bulldozers and hand crews.

We are expecting continued Santa Ana winds throughout tomorrow all the way into Saturday with a slight increase in winds again on Sunday before it diminishes again all the way until Tuesday. But we still have a good week of Santa Ana winds and red flag warnings that are going to be a challenge to firefighters in this region.

VAUSE: So what does all this mean for the tens of thousands of people around the Sylmar (ph) area affected by these fires, who are under mandatory evacuation?

How long do you think it might be before they can get home?

MILLER: So this afternoon approximately 4 o'clock, mandatory evacuations were lifted. It was opened up to all residents that are living in the area. So the mandatory evacuations were lifted; a couple of pocketed areas were for residents only.

(INAUDIBLE) was kept closed and those should be opened up by tomorrow.

VAUSE: OK. There's something about that (INAUDIBLE) they still aren't aware the mandatory evacuation has been lifted. So we'll try to get the word out on that. John, we appreciate the update. That's good news, coming up to 20 percent contained on that one fire, of course there's still a lot which lies ahead.

John Miller, the deputy spokesman for CAL FIRE.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, we'll get the forecast. All the latest details in a moment.

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[00:40:00]

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VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

Officials here in Ventura County say more than 400 homes, buildings and other structures have been destroyed by the fire. But that's still an unofficial estimate because there's been no actual assessment done, no assessment at this point.

But among those buildings destroyed, this house here, as you can see all that's left standing, and this is so typical of these fires, it's often the chimney here which is the only thing left standing.

And if we tilt down just a little bit, what we can see in the foreground there, what appears to be a washer-dryer. And for a while, there's been this smoldering of what looked like a hot spot which was still burning.

Take a look at what this house looked like before the fire. A split- level, three-bedroom family home, very nice neighborhood here. But on Tuesday evening, fire swept through these streets, driven by 55 mph winds, coming in from the east, and ultimately dozens of homes just like this one were destroyed.

(WEATHER REPORT)

VAUSE: And thank you for watching. I'm John Vause, live in Ventura County.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, we will be back at the top of the hour with a look at the day's top stories. But first, "WORLD SPORT" starts after the break.