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CNN NEWSROOM

Thousand Oaks Massacre Claims 12, Including Police Officer; Mueller's Team Drafting Its Final Report; Overview of the U.S. Midterms; "Let's Rise" Tackles U.S. Gun Violence; Sources: Mueller's Team Drafting Its Final Report; Evacuations Ordered as Wildfires Ravage California; Prince Charles: I Won't Meddle In Controversial Affairs. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired November 9, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Once again, America is searching for a reason why.

Why did a former Marine open fire on college students drinking and dancing in a bar in California?

There are new clues and a disturbing message the shooter posted on Facebook.

Plus protests erupt in cities across the United States, demanding protection for the Russia investigation after President Trump fires his attorney general and replaces him, for a time, with a man widely considered a crony.

And residents run for their lives as a monster wildfire roars across Northern California, burning land the size of one football pitch every three seconds.

Hello and welcome to all of our viewers all around the world. Thanks for being with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

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VAUSE: There has been another deadly mass shooting in the U.S. and the reaction here has been mundane, muted and predictable. It's an all-too familiar scene, only the sordid details seem to change. This time, it was a bar filled with college students near Los Angeles.

The terrifying moments were captured on cellphone video -- and a warning, some viewers will find these images disturbing.

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VAUSE: Police say the gunman, identified as former U.S. Marine Ian David Long, shot himself but only after killing 12 people and wounding more than a dozen others. One young woman who survived described what she heard and saw. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was dancing. I tend to dance at the very back of the dance floor, which is covered by like a wall. So I didn't see him walking in or like something like fireworks almost. I can't tell you gunshots because initially I wasn't like, they're gun shots. I thought they were fireworks.

And I thought it was a part of the song and it sounded really weird. It wasn't until a girl started screaming that I realized that, OK, this is actually more serious than I thought. So I just remember, I dropped to the ground and crawled over to the water area which is right next to the bar and held my back against the bar area in the hopes that I wouldn't get shot from my back.

I want to see everything that was going on. I remember when I was on the ground, seeing a girl getting trampled. Because I was against the wall, I was OK. But she was getting trampled.

And I could tell in her eyes that she wanted me to help her and I couldn't move. And I'm still in shock. I still feel sad at the fact that I couldn't help her because I was completely frozen.

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VAUSE: Now investigators are trying to find anything that will help explain what motivated Long to carry out his deadly rampage. They're searching his home, his car and his belongings.

Ventura County sheriff Ron Helus was one of the first on the scene. As he entered the bar, he was shot several times and did not survive. He was a 29-year veteran of the department. His retirement was just a year away.

Police, firefighters and many others lined the streets on Thursday as a sign of respect, as a hearse carried the officer's casket to the coroner's office. Police say the 28-year-old shooter suffered from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, but after a domestic disturbance in April, he was evaluated and cleared by mental health specialists.

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VAUSE: CNN law enforcement contributor Steve Moore joins us now from Thousand Oaks. Steve is a former FBI special agent and a resident there of Thousand Oaks in California.

So, Steve, we're very glad to have you with us tonight.

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: I'm glad to be here, John. It's -- I'm just sad the reason that I have to be here.

VAUSE: Yes, obviously a lot of people are in shock but I guess it's what the more than 300 mass shootings so far this year, it seems almost like there's a numbness to all this now. Only the details have changed, this time it's a former Marine who served in Afghanistan. He turns up at a bar where he's been a bit of a regular, only this

time he's wearing all black with a hood, his face is partially covered. He has a Glock 45 which has been modified, at least the magazines has been modified to hold more rounds than that the 10 rounds that the Glock normally carries.

He has smoke bombs with him. He takes out the security guard and then he shoots 12 people dead.

So where do you start to look for a motive here?

MOORE: Well, John, I used to tell the agents I worked with that if you -- if you fully understood the motive, you'd be insane because these people -- the motives of these people are not going to be really understood by you and me except in the most abstract way.

But to answer your question, the way you find the motive is to get into his writings, to get into anything he's written down --

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MOORE: -- anything he's told people, any grievances he's had, anything that would help us understand the specific defect in this person that caused him to do this.

VAUSE: Well, it seems authorities have found what appears to be a posting that he -- that he put on Facebook around the same time as the attack apparently and it reads, I hope people call me insane -- so this is from the shooter.

Wouldn't that just be a big ball of irony?

Yes, I'm insane. But the only thing you people do out of these shootings is hopes and prayers or keep you in my thoughts every time and wonder why these keep happening.

So what does that actually tell you about what may or may not be going on inside his brain?

MOORE: Well, you know, you've got the God complex that he's in charge and he's smarter than everybody else in the world, you know, saying oh, I'm insane, no you're insane. I can -- I can do this to the entire world and there's nothing you can do to stop me.

And you know, I've interviewed a lot of these people who do these mass shootings and they're -- the motives that they will give you immediately or that they will tell you to your face are usually not the motives that drove them to do this.

And so I would say that while his motive appears to be punishing society here, I don't think he's sane enough to care about society. If he was sane enough to care about where society was going, he

wouldn't have killed teenagers. And so I think what we have to do is forget what he's saying about his motive and find out what his real motive is, because he's insane. He's killed 13 or 12 people. So why are we listening to him?

VAUSE: Yes, this is the force attack on a so-called soft target in just two weeks in the U.S. I guess if you're asking the question though, how do you make these soft targets safer, then you've already fell because you can't make soft targets safe. You can make every soft target out there safe.

The issue is a whole lot more complicated than that, right?

MOORE: Right. It's a self-defeating question, John. Everything is a soft target or at least 99 percent of things are a soft target. You're not going to solve it that way. You're not going to solve it by taking away individual weapons.

Not that I don't think we should try but I mean, you know, people are going to have cars, people are going to have explosives that they can make at home. What I think we have to do is an integrated approach that deals with the weapons, that deals with the guns, the firearms, the explosive.

People -- I mean somebody who's that insane shouldn't even have a driver's license, really because they'd use the car as a weapon. So the first thing we have to do is integrate all of our -- all of our efforts around one thing, the one thing that is in common with all active shooters, all mass shooters. Is there something wrong with them mentally?

VAUSE: Also keep in mind. If it can happen at Thousand Oaks which the Mayor of Thousand Oaks declared one of the safest cities in the country and according to the Web site Niche which uses data from the FBI the U.S. Census Bureau is actually the third safest city in the United States. So you know, it's not a question of you know, physical safety in stopping these kinds of mass shootings, again in case of much bigger picture.

MOORE: Yes, it's -- yes, we are technically the third safest city. And what's ironic here, John, is this place -- you know, there's -- I'm a retired FBI agent. I lived here for almost my entire FBI career. This isn't -- this is a law-enforcement ghetto.

That's our joke here. It's all FBI agents, DEA agents, LAPD officers, Ventura County Sheriff's, this is where we choose to live because it's safe. So it goes to the point that there is no safe place when there are people with guns and cars. They can go anywhere. And so -- go ahead

VAUSE: I just -- we're almost out of time, Steve and I you know, I want to finish on the bravery of Sergeant Ron Helus, this sheriff's deputy who actually ran into the building. He was the first on the scene.

You know this is the guidelines which you know, police and first responders have been given for the Columbine school shooting which is basically don't wait for backup, don't wait for assistance, just get in there and try and stop the shooter you know, because that way you save lives.

And this time it worked but Sergeant Helus paid for that with his own life and he was what, a year away from retirement.

MOORE: Yes. And the thing is that when you're on SWAT, when your firearms instructor like he is, they're responsible for actually teaching these -- what we call Rapid Action tactics or active shooter tactics.

And the technique is, you have to give up your --

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MOORE: -- personal safety. You can't wait for backup. You can't wait for a shield to go in. You can't wait to send in a dog. You go in. You move to this sound of gunfire. That's not a metaphor. You -- if you hear it, you go towards it.

And you know, it's this -- when they -- when they go through the training and I've done a lot of this training for people, when you start the training, the first thing you say is that this is training for your worst day.

Everybody gets this badge that you carry and the badge isn't so much of an identification as it is a promise. The officers making a promise by wearing that badge that when the shots are going off you will run to the gunfire. And I can tell you right now that Ron kept his promise and he taught hundreds of other people to do the same.

VAUSE: Yes, and he should be remembered in all of his bravery which obviously -- which if he hadn't been so brave, he hadn't done what he did, the death toll could have been a lot higher than the 12 it already stands at.

MOORE: Yes.

VAUSE: So Steve, thank you. I appreciate you being with us.

MOORE: Thank you, John.

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VAUSE: Sources tell CNN special counsel Robert Mueller is now drafting his final report into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The timing is not unexpected yet some are still asking if Mueller has moved up his timetable in response to the president firing his attorney general and appointing an acting head of the Justice Department who is openly hostile to the Russia investigation.

Matt Whitaker has described the 18-month long investigation as ridiculous and a little fishy. Now he's Mueller's new boss. Beyond the immediate day-to-day implications, there's a bigger question if the public will ever get to see the final report. It'll be marked confidential so Whitaker could be well within his rights to decide to shelve it and never release it.

Political analyst Michael Genovese joins us now from Los Angeles. He teaches political science at Loyola Marymount University and is author of the book "How Trump Governs."

Michael, thank you so much for taking time to be with us.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Pleasure.

VAUSE: Yes, as you say, the timing is no surprise here. We've been expecting you know, Mueller's report around now, but still, there is this sort of nagging feeling that you know, maybe Mueller is reacting to Donald Trump firing the attorney general.

What are your thoughts on that?

GENOVESE: I think he's going along with his own plan and I think he had this arranged before the events of the last 48 hours. He's also waiting for the written response to some questions that Donald Trump is supposed to be answering. And so we knew he wasn't going to release anything important during the campaign.

Now that it's over, people are saying well, it will be right after the Christmas holiday, perhaps early in the New Year that he's going to do his final report. So I think he's right on his own timetable.

VAUSE: OK. So the concern, of course, is that by you know, without Jeff Sessions there Whitaker is now essentially Mueller's boss. He's in charge of the Russia investigation. He could starve, he can kill it, you know a whole bunch of things. But we had this bill in the Senate which Senators Flake, a Republican and Coons, Democrat, try and force a vote on. It's been stalled for some time, but this would actually protect Mueller's job.

Yes, it appears to be a bipartisan effort and again, what are the chances of that bill actually making it into law because I think it's been stalled since April?

GENOVESE: Well, I don't think Mitch McConnell is going to let it come to a vote. I think McConnell is a protector of the president. The president is giving him what he wants most which is justice, after justice, after justice on the federal courts and the Supreme Court.

So I think there is -- there's not going to be a vote on that. I think that'll be bypassed. Whitaker is clearly has prejudged the case. He's made a number of comments on it. He ought to recuse himself he will not. The president would never have appointed him, had he even thinking about recusing himself.

And so, I think what we're going to see is that President Trump has a very clear strategy and a very clear goal. The problem is the pathway is not always clear. And that has been

made more difficult by the House of Representatives now or, at least, in January going lower to the Democrats. And so, that's complicated the case for the president. Whitaker is going to be his frontman --

VAUSE: And you've always seen already in cities across the United States, there have been protests defending Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. You know, there are fears of Jeff Sessions being fired and replace the virtual nobody whose only claim to fame was -- you know, being a T.V. pundit critical of Mueller investigation.

And here with now the CNN reporting that the backlash has taken the White House by surprise. This is what we've been reporting on the website.

It was not widely known among White House staff that he, doesn't Whitaker, commented repeatedly on the special counsel's investigation in interviews and on television, which is ironic given that this is what drew President Donald Trump to him.

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VAUSE: This to me just seems so beyond belief. This new White House, if it does anything consistently its watches cable news. And then it draws up a friends list and an enemies list. And it just seems beyond belief that they would have no idea that the only television lawyer defending the president and was out there on CNN and what he was saying.

GENOVESE: We don't -- not to be cynical about this, but I think it's pretty clear that Mr. Whitaker was here for one reason and one reason alone. And that, that vetting was not the issue, it's not the concern.

The concern was we want someone who will go to the rails, will protect the president and that he has said some of the things that he said, I think Trump may be unknown to some in the staff, but I think the president is very clear, he's an avid cable T.V. watcher and I'm sure he's heard those comments and that endeared him to the president.

VAUSE: What is very impressive here is if you look at this sort of over the last couple of months, it's now Donald Trump has lined up everything to protect himself and his family. He's now got the loyal attorney general, at least, an acting one.

You know, with the reputation that he'll do whatever the president wants him to do. And if anyone wants to challenge that, well, good luck, take it to the Supreme Court and there is Mr. Brett Kavanaugh. You know this is sort of how the mob operates.

GENOVESE: We know the president has back is to the wall, he feels the heat. And so, he is spending a lot of his time trying to find ways to protect himself, protect his family, to pursue his interest from criminal investigations, from possible indictment, from subpoenas, from his son, for example, getting into legal trouble. And so, he's spending a lot of time that he ought to spend governing protecting himself and his family. And I think, what's going to happen is it's only going to get worse with his back to the wall right now, facing the prospect of the Mueller report coming out going to Mr. Whitaker.

But also, anything that happens to Mueller, the first place he goes is to the House of Representatives. The Democrats will control those committees, would love to give him a voice, give him a megaphone and give him attention.

VAUSE: Yes and even with the special counsel investigation comes to an end, that doesn't mean the Democrats come to an end. Did the lower house -- I mean, they keep going and going and it just -- you know, never seems to end.

GENOVESE: And the Southern District of New York has. And so, there's a lot of -- there are multiple strands, a lot of different potential cases.

VAUSE: Yes.

GENOVESE: Mueller is the key, but he is smart as anything and he is got his tentacles out to a lot of different places.

VAUSE: He is -- he is part of everybody but not saying a word.

Michael, thank you so much. Appreciate you being with us.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

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VAUSE: Well, today's political debate has covered everything from Russian meddling to migrant caravans.

But what about gun reform and gun violence?

Many have been demanding action being taken on that issue. But now one group is showing its music can actually make a difference.

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VAUSE: In the lead-up to the U.S. midterm elections, the president decided to demonize a few thousand migrants making their way on foot to the U.S., hoping for a job which most Americans refuse to do. Trump called it an invasion and he warned the caravan, as it's known,

was filled with criminals and Middle Easterners, the none-too-subtle code word for "terrorists."

Neither statement was true nor was this a crisis, nor was it an invasion, as the president had described it but it was part of a strategy to fire up his base, with the fear of the Other and get them out to vote.

And it didn't matter if the president was crying wolf, because the Republican gains in the Senate were proof that it worked.

Democrats had a strategy, too, making a very conscious choice not to talk about impeaching Donald Trump if they took back the lower house. They feared that would energize Republicans to go to the ballot as well.

Instead they talked about health care and protecting the Obama era reform, which ensured preexisting conditions were covered by health insurance companies.

What neither side was talking about was gun reform, not a word, even though barely a year has passed since 58 people were shot dead at a country music performance in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

And that was followed five months later by another massacre, when a former student opened fire at his old high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 adults and children.

And yet gun reform wasn't even an asterisk during this year's midterm elections. It was a deliberate choice by both parties and it paid off. It worked. Democrats won the House. Donald Trump and the Republicans kept the Senate with an increased majority.

So in political terms, both the Democrats and the Republicans won but the country lost. A dozen people shot dead, at least 21 others wounded at a shooting in California on Thursday, barely two days after the midterm elections.

The gunman purchased at least one firearm legally, a .45 caliber Gridlock, which normally holds 10 rounds, plus one in the chamber. But officials say the shooter was using an extended magazine.

By one count, this was the 307th deadly mass shooting in the United States so far this year. Thursday was the 311th day of the year. And somehow this epidemic of violence is not the most important issue facing voters.

While there is a deafening silence from political leaders, the students who started the March for Our Lives movement after the Parkland shooting have not been silent, crusading for the past nine months with a single-minded, idealistic goal: to upend the status quo.

And like generations before them who have been fighting for change, these teenagers have their own protest soundtrack as well.

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VAUSE: Joining me now from Somers in Connecticut is Austin James, the lead singer on "Let's Rise." His cousin was murdered at Sandy Hook.

Michelle Esrick is the director of the video. She's in New York.

And joining me here on the set here in Atlanta is the original writer of the song, Glenn Donifer.

So welcome. Good to have you all here with us.

MICHELLE ESRICK, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Austin, I just want to start with you as the, I guess the talent, if you like, you get first go. Is this song -- we come at this song on a day when just two days after the midterm elections which is every two years, Americans have this unique opportunity to be able to, you know, change the way they govern to change the laws which are on the books.

And yes, there was some change which was made when it comes to gun reform but essentially it feels sort of like blatantly obvious now that it was an opportunity missed especially, you know, when you look at what happened in California on Thursday.

AUSTIN JAMES, SINGER: Absolutely. I mean it has to be the biggest issue facing Americans today. I mean like you said, 311 days 307 issues of gun violence. This is an epidemic that needs to stop. It should have been over with when our children were killed at Sandy Hook. But it's been allowed to continue.

VAUSE: And Glenn, you know, you wrote the music and the lyrics --

GLENN DONIFER, SONGWRITER: Yes.

VAUSE: -- but you also have a personal connection as well to -- you know, essentially to basically this epic of gun violence in the country. So what's your history?

GLENN: Well, my history as a recording artist and then my wife and I own a 250-kid preschool for the last 18 years in Peachtree City. And we take care of 250 kids a day. And as the violence hit the kids, it impacted --

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DONIFER: -- our everyday life. I mean we had to secure the building more. VAUSE: Because there's so many guns out there, more guns lead to more guns so you needed to --

DONIFER: We can't even let kids bring backpacks or baby bags or anything anymore. The whole world's changed so much.

VAUSE: And also you have a connection to Parkland as well.

DONIFER: Yes, my dad lives in Parkland. I lived like -- gone to the high school. And I lived in Fort Lauderdale for 20 years and at the school we have a dad whose daughter would have been in the Parkland building but now lives here.

And ironically the manager at our local bank has a college roommate whose child died in Parkland. So, a lot of Parkland connections.

VAUSE: It's amazing how many people in this country, their lives are touched, you know, either by one step remove or directly by some kind of gun violence.

But Michelle, I'm just wondering what is your connection here? I mean you decided to essentially direct the video. So, you know, do you have a personal connection to any of this?

ESRICK: Well, just that I care about all of us. And this is devastating. I don't want to live in a world where people are afraid to go to school, children are afraid to go to school. My niece told me she's afraid to have a baby naming in a synagogue.

We shouldn't be afraid to live, to go to a movie, to go to church, to go to a synagogue. And this really has to stop.

But the way it came to me was Keith Garde, who produced the song sent me the song, this incredible song. And I was so moved, I fell in love with it. And I said, please let me direct a video for this incredible song.

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VAUSE: I was listening to the song. It's very powerful, it's very moving. Is it written -- is it meant to be a rallying cry for the kids who are, you know, confronted with this sort of violence every day? Is it meant to be an expression of frustration because progress is taking so slow or is it sort of -- everything and then some.

DONIFER: As the issue weighed heavier on my heart, I thought what can I do to help move the message forward. And I'm a songwriter. That's what I've done for 40 years.

So I figured if I could get the message in a musical piece, well then people that ordinarily wouldn't even watch this or pay attention to it might bridge the gap and open their hearts and open their eyes and open their minds through a music message.

And it seems to be working. People that wouldn't even watch to marches are listening to the song. VAUSE: Well, that's the thing because, you know. It all sort of started with Parkland. Parkland has seen this, the birthplace of this, you know, the gun reform protest movement.

But of course before there was Parkland, there was Sandy Hook.

And Austin, you know, your connection to Sandy Hook is a personal one as well.

JAMES: Yes. Absolutely. It was our day. What was harder was the memorial service afterward for a small child. There's really no more words, no more thoughts and prayers. It is time for action and that's what this song is about.

VAUSE: So you see it. Because every -- I guess every, you know, protest movement each generation has a song or collection of songs that -- you know, their anthem if you like. And so often when you've seen these lyrics, is that what you thought you were doing? You were performing an anthem for a generation demanding changes to gun laws?

JAMES: Absolutely. Music is such a powerful tool. And it can really bring people together and connect us all. And yes, I'm just so grateful that I was able to be a part of this.

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VAUSE: So could you explain to me the roles that the kids played in the video.

ESRICK: Ben and Josh and Roman and Jasmina and Justin -- they all -- most of them wrote verses for the song. And I filmed them at their school and their school is amazing. It is called City of School. They have beautiful murals that you have there on the set.

We filmed them on the roof. I filmed them, you know, in the recording booth. They are incredible. They've been involved in the movement.

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That's why Keith Garde and, you know, Glenn wanted to bring them in to be a part of the song and write verses for the song, because they are very active in the movement. And have participated in Washington and in the walkout.

And we just had an amazing day of filming them in their school, in their environment, even though, when you walk in, there is a police officer sitting there, to protect them. But it's quite something that, you know, that police officer has to be sitting there, in school, and a good thing.

And I wish it wasn't necessary. But they are just absolutely incredible. I fell in love with them, and they moved me so much. And they're so inspiring.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, like I said, every protest movement needs an anthem. And, I guess, maybe now, this is the anthem which, you know, the Parkland kids needed. So, thank you all for being with us, so to Austin and for Michelle and also Glenn here, in Atlanta.

GLENN DONIFER, SONGWRITER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Appreciate you all being -- taking the time and being with us.

AUSTIN JAMES, LEAD SINGER, LET'S RISE VIDEO: Thank you for having --

ERSICK: Thank you for having us.

VAUSE: My pleasure. We'll be right back after a short break.

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VAUSE: Welcome back, I'm John Vause, with an update of our top news stories this hour. Investigators are trying to figure out what drove a U.S. Marine veteran to open fire inside a California nightclub, filled with college students. The gunman killed 12 people late Wednesday, before turning the gun on himself.

Sources tell CNN Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now drafting his final report into the Russia probe. Still unresolved is whether Mueller will try to question Donald Trump in person. The President's lawyers are currently reviewing Mr. Trump's written responses to Mueller's questions.

Mueller's new boss at the U.S. Justice Department is no friend of the investigation, and may move to shut it down.

Two wildfires are torching everything in their path, in California, north of Los Angeles, a so-called hill fire, has engulfed more than 4,000 hectares. It's closed down parts of the freeway in both directions. And in the north of the state, thousands of residents raced from their homes as the so-called campfire exploded on Thursday.

The out-of-control flames are growing about 80 football fields a minute. Several injuries have been reported, including two firefighters. Authorities say, they are waiting for safer conditions before they can attempt any assessment of the damage.

Charles Kambourian was working in Chico, California when the flames started engulfing his hometown in Paradise, about 14 miles away. He joins us now on the line, so Charles, you and pretty much everyone else, from the town of Paradise, have been evacuated, and you're staying with friends there in Chico, which, you know --

Do you have any idea, at this point, how long it will be before you're allowed back in that fire zone? Do you know at this point if you still have a house?

[00:35:00] CHARLES KAMBOURIAN, RESIDENT OF PARADISE, CALIFORNIA (through telephone): You know, that's a great question. Thanks for having me on, John. It's really up in the air right now, because all the reports I'm reading online are saying that Paradise has been wiped out and destroyed. VAUSE: Wow.

KAMBOURIAN: So I see certain pictures of, you know, like popular landmarks, like, you know, McDonald's or something like that. And it's just flattened.

VAUSE: So when we tour, the entire place, is just no longer there. Like, how many people? What was -- what was the population of Paradise?

KAMBOURIAN: The population of Paradise is about 27,000. And there's also Magalia, which is really close to the city. They most likely -- they evacuated as well. Maybe there are 5,000 to 10,000 people. And it's kind of hard to leave Paradise because there are only three roads in and two of the three roads were shutdown. So, you're trying to siphon thousands of people into one road. It's really a mess.

VAUSE: Yes, because we're looking at some of the images, which you recorded, of the evacuation. And the officials themselves actually said, getting out of Paradise was quite difficult, and your wife in particular, had a fairly harrowing experience, right?

KAMBOURIAN: Yes. So she didn't even know they were supposed to evacuate at one point. The only reason why she knew is because she walked outside and there was just ash coming down like rain, just everywhere, and it was so dark outside. So she gathered up the kids and got some of our valuables, left, and she mentioned that the road that she tried to get out of, it was just a wall of flames.

There was no way she was getting through there, so she turned back around and tried to get out of the main road, which is called Skyway. And she said that the, you know, the trees were just, in awe, like, up in flames, there were flames hitting the windshield as she was leaving. It was horrible experience for my son and for my kids and everything, crazy.

VAUSE: It sounds terrifying. Just very quickly, Charles, each year, these fires seem to get worse. Are you at the point yet, especially if there is nothing left in Paradise, of this thinking well, maybe we've got to find another part of the state or the world or, you know, to go live, because this is just too dangerous living in this part of the world.

KAMBOURIAN: You know, my wife grew up there. You know, she's been up there almost 40 years with my in-laws. Never has this ever happened like this before. It's such an amazing storm that unfortunately has taken out the whole town. So, I don't know. Good question. I don't know if I'll rebuild or go somewhere else. But, it's a beautiful town. It was beautiful.

VAUSE: Well, hopefully it still is.

KAMBOURIAN: Hopefully it will be again.

VAUSE: Yes. I understand the pessimism that maybe nothing has survived because these fires have been so bad. But Charles, we wish you, we wish your family all the best. At least, you are safe.

KAMBOURIAN: Thank you, John. Take care.

VAUSE: You too. Thank you.

Let's go to Derek Van Dam now, CNN Meteorologist, with all the details. I mean, when you hear those stories about, you know -- it's only property, but, you know, it's everyone's life. It's memories. It's everything you own, and it's all just gone.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's heart-wrenching to hear some of the stories. In fact, one story that I read online was about a woman and her family evacuating the campfire region in Paradise, and hearing propane tanks just exploding in the background, as she was trying to evacuate her family.

A look at the plume of smoke from the campfire and how quickly it continues to spread, we picked something up on our GOES-16 satellite imagery, this is one-minute satellite updated imagery. And I want you to pay attention to, not only the time stamp in the top right corner of our T.V. screen, but look at how quickly that smoke moves to the coast.

This is about 200 kilometers away from Paradise, and if you do the math, the fire started at roughly 6:00 a.m. in the morning. That took about six hours to travel 200 kilometers. So winds there, easily gusting anywhere between 30 to 40 kilometers per hour.

So that is the main factor here, in elevating our fire threat across the Sacramento Valley, all the way down the Central Valley, all the way towards Ventura County where we have other active fires, low humidity and the lack of rainfall.

We talk about that so frequently in California, with drought conditions continuing. High wind threat continues today, for the areas that have some of the on-going fires. That's why the national weather service has red flag warnings for the Sacramento Valley Region, all the way down to Los Angeles.

Now, the campfire was spreading so quickly, it was equivalent to spreading an entire football field or consuming an entire football field, every second. I mean, that is massive rapid growth of a fire.

And firefighters were doing their absolute best to extinguish the flames, including several tanker Boeing 747s, which you can actually see some of the flight pass, in and around the Paradise region, trying to douse the flames. This is one of those 747s putting flame retardant on the hill fire in Ventura County.

[00:40:10] That's the other fire that we're actually monitoring, that one still over 4,000 hectares, so the fire threat continues. We know that. But these are two definitely serious fires we're going to monitor for the next days ahead, John.

VAUSE: Derek, thank you. You mentioned that fire in Ventura County. Let's go take a look at that now, live. The time in Los Angeles is 9:40 in the evening, and you can see these flames are just terrifyingly spectacular.

This is what's known as the Woolsey Fire. It's one of the many fires which the crews have been battling and will be battling by the look of things, throughout the night. You're watching CNN. We'll take a short break, back in a moment.

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VAUSE: For many years, Prince Charles has faced some criticism for voicing his views on issues like the environment or modern architecture. But, in a new documentary, the Prince of Wales promises he will tone things down once he becomes king, if he ever becomes king.

CNN's Max Foster reports the heir to the British throne, does not want to be known as the meddling monarch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Prince of Wales then, heading back to the U.K., where his next public engagement will effectively be the celebration of his 70th birthday. He has been here in West Africa, visiting three commonwealth countries. When he becomes king, he will take over as head of the commonwealth too.

He doesn't talk about his future in that way, since the subject that he has used his 70th as an occasion, to confirm and put on the record, once and for all, that he won't be the meddling monarch that many people, many commentators have suggested he might be.

CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: There is only room for one sovereign at time, not two. So, you can't be the same as the sovereign if you're the Prince of Wales, so yes. But, the idea, somehow that it's going to go on exactly the same way, if I have to secede, is complete nonsense, because the two -- the two situations are completely different.

Clearly, I won't be able to do the same things I've done, you know, as heir. So, of course, you operate within the constitutional parameters.

FOSTER: The Prince of Wales has been accused of getting involved with arguably political issues such as town planning, architecture, and the environment. He doesn't see it as meddling, though, he sees it as motivational.

But he does say, that he won't get involved in any public opinion making when he is monarch, because he sees that role as distinct from the one he is in now, and he'll only act on the advice of government ministers.

Max Foster, CNN, Abuja.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.

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