Facing the flames
42 Images

A look back at the fires

Malibu Presbyterian Church, a 60-year-old house of worship that barely escaped destruction in the 1993 infernos, was left a collection of charred, twisted wood and concrete columns after the blaze. “We will rebuild,” Pastor Greg Hughes said. “We will gather together. We will plan and be stronger.” (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters get pelted with retardant dropped by a helicopter on the Malibu fire as it heads down the hillside toward a structure on Pacific Coast Highway last Sunday. Firefighters beating back flames amid gusts of up to 50 mph saved the building. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Devore residents race to their car to evacuate from a brush fire burning toward Glen Helen Parkway last Sunday, the day the wind-whipped firestorms began. Gusts of 75 mph were reported in the area. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
An Airstream trailer is dwarfed last Sunday by approaching flames in Carbon Canyon in Malibu. Several structures were burned that day by the fast-moving blaze, dubbed the Canyon fire. (Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times)
Without aerial support, firefighters are overwhelmed by flames racing through homes in Green Valley Lake on Monday in the San Bernardino Mountains. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Twelve firefighters trapped by flames atop a ridge off Santiago Canyon Road in Orange County on Monday scramble into aluminum fire shelters. The two crews of six men each were on a slope putting out hot spots when flames roared up the hillside, surrounding them with hot, burning brush and leaving them no escape route. The firefighters were examined at the scene by paramedics and refused to go to the hospital. (Karen Tapia / Los Angeles Times)
Luke Schroder,14, looks at the smoke-filled sky after surfing last Sunday in Malibu. Evacuations and road closures kept many from the beach. (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)
In an almost artistic display, a plane drops fire retardant onto a blaze in the hills above Malibu as seen from Cold Canyon Road on Monday afternoon. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
April Arrandt runs from the fire in Malibu early last Sunday morning. The Canyon blaze would go on to consume 4,565 acres and damage or destroy 22 structures. The car was not hers. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
A neighborhood in Lake Arrowhead is reduced to ash by Monday evening. A week after the Southern California blazes began, stubborn flames continue to threaten the area in San Bernardino County. (Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighter Jason Falarski battles to save a house in Poway on Monday. For many in San Diego County, the scene was reminiscent of the deadly 2003 Cedar fire. Several hundred thousand people evacuated their homes as wildfires flared across the county, but the size of the exodus made escape impossible for some. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
David Ottesen, 16, tries to douse embers before firefighters reach his and his parents’ property on Bent Tree Court in Poway on Monday. “They just went to town on every single flame that was in our backyard,” said David, a high school junior. “We probably wouldn’t have a house if they hadn’t come.” (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Katie Borg, left, waits as her mother, Judy, right, and sister Kelsey pack their vehicle Wednesday in preparation to evacuate their home in Arrowbear, near Lake Arrowhead. (Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)
Smoke billows in Stevenson Ranch, near Magic Mountain, threatening homes Monday. About 15,000 residents were evacuated from the area as fires erupted. By Thursday, the blaze was fully contained and burned 2,824 acres. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighting helicopter passes over Amy Berling while she hoses the yard of a friend as flames approach the south Escondido home Tuesday afternoon. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Chuck Toland, a corrections officer, removes a flag from the entrance to Valley Oaks Mobile Ranch in Fallbrook on Monday. More than 200 homes, many of them at the mobile home park, have been destroyed in the Rice fire in northern San Diego County. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
A house burns on Circle View Drive in Running Springs near Lake Arrowhead as a firefighter talks on a two-way radio Tuesday. The wildfires destroyed about 300 homes around Lake Arrowhead. (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)
Ariel Yue peers from a tent at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Tuesday. Provisions, and volunteers to give them to thousands of evacuees, were abundant. The last of the evacuees departed the stadium Friday, and the San Diego Chargers announced they would play there Sunday, as scheduled. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters battle a blaze that destroyed several homes in Green Valley Lake, near Lake Arrowhead, on Monday. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter attacks flames at the Canyon Breeze Village Mobile Home Park in Santa Clarita, where a brush fire would burn about 10 acres on Monday. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Hand crews from the U.S. Forest Service retreat from flames Tuesday before the arrival of a water-dropping helicopter in a canyon north of Castaic and west of the 5 Freeway. The Ranch fire in that area has consumed more than 58,000 acres. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is dwarfed by flames along East Grade Road on Palomar Mountain early Wednesday. The fire was still raging Saturday and had burned 43,000 acres and destroyed nearly 80 homes. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Several homes are threatened as flames burn a hillside near Running Springs on Tuesday (Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter watches a backfire burn on East Grade Road on Palomar Mountain on Wednesday. The area remained under threat nearly a week after the Southern California firestorms began. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Grass Valley fire northwest of Lake Arrowhead has consumed more than 160 structures across more than 1,110 acres, including this neighborhood viewed Monday. (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
A 25-year-old Forest Service firefighter who fell while working to create a containment line is readied for transport to a hospital Wednesday. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Several homes in this Rancho Bernardo neighborhood of San Diego were reduced to rubble Tuesday, while others escaped the fire unscathed. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Evacuee Kendra Heathman, 15, wakes up with the sun on Wednesday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Kendra and her family, including their dog Missy, rushed from their home as fire raced through their Rancho Bernardo neighborhood. (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)
An air tanker drops fire retardant along Hume Road in Malibu on Monday in an attempt to keep the flames from crossing Las Flores Canyon and moving into Topanga Canyon. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Brian and Sue Geraci survey the remains of their burned-out home in Orange County’s Modjeska Canyon on Tuesday. “Our house was supposed to be fireproof. We watered and we watered and we watered,” Sue Geraci said. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
A house goes up in flames at City Creek Road and Highway 330 in Running Springs on Tuesday. More than 200 homes have been lost in the Slide fire in San Bernardino County. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Tress Goodwin cries Thursday at memories lost and found in the house she grew up in on Aguamiel Road in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego. She holds a cup that belonged to her late grandmother. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
President Bush predicted a “better day ahead” as he toured fire-ravaged San Diego on Thursday. “To the extent people need the help of the federal government, we will help,” he said, his right arm draped over the shoulder of Kendra Jeffcoat, whose burned-out Rancho Bernardo home served as a backdrop for the walking tour. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Whittemore, background, prays Thursday with her mother, Winsome, during an ecumenical service at Our Lady of Malibu Catholic Church. Winsome Whittemore is a staff member of Malibu Presbyterian Church, which was destroyed in the Canyon fire. (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)
A paddleboarder glides across the water Thursday in Newport Beach as the sun sets in a smoke-filled sky. The winds that fanned the Southern California fires also pushed its smoke far out to sea. (Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)
A girl shields her eyes from the smoke and ashes after her family evacuated horses Tuesday to the Del Mar Fairgrounds north of San Diego. (Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter from Chico, Calif., sleeps in Irvine Regional Park on Thursday after a 20-hour stint fighting a fire in Modjeska Canyon in Orange County. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Leo Calac passes an undamaged piece of Southwest Indian pottery to a helper as he sifts through the remains of his burned-down home Wednesday on the Rincon Reservation in San Diego County. Calac had lived in the house for 30 years. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Teresa Lewis surveys the damage to her kitchen Wednesday afternoon after her Canyon Country home was gutted by fire and then looted. That prompted her family to have a chain-link fence put up around their property. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Darlene Rose tries to sleep in the front seat of her pickup truck after 1 a.m. Friday. Rose fled to the stables at the Del Mar Fairgrounds with five horses after fire for a time threatened her Ramona home. “Things are bad right now, but I am living my dream,” she says of being able to breed quarter horses. She lost a home in the 2003 Cedar fire. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Jay Riordan holds a charred fragment of a family photo recovered Thursday from the ashes of his home in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Tim and Susan Deehan embrace amid the ruins of their home overlooking Oak Canyon and Lake Poway in San Diego County on Thursday. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)