Southern California Wildfires

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Weather is on firefighters' side - for now
Cool, moist air is aiding the battle against the last of the Southern California wildfires, but Santa Ana winds are expected to return by this weekend. More

-- Special report: Facing the flames

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-- Aid centers, closures, precautions

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Firefighter Josh Balboa monitors the Harris fire in southern San Diego County.

Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Guest post: Talking Insurance

Scott Lewis is executive editor at He is among members of the community we have asked to post thoughts, news and follow-ups to the wildfire story.

A simple point about home values seems to be getting lost in the discussion these days. I've been meaning to write a post about this for a few days. On the local radio show Editor's Roundtable yesterday morning, I heard KPBS' Alan Ray advocate a rethinking of whether we should rebuild homes in the areas destroyed by the fire.

Read on »

Guest post: Not all back to normal

Scott Lewis is executive editor at He is among members of the community we have asked to post thoughts, news and follow-ups to the wildfire story.

Yesterday I wrote a column about a San Diego resident named Cheryl Hamano and the challenge of measuring a disaster.

I had met Hamano and her family four years ago after they lost their home in the Cedar Fire. It was by sheer luck that the family had been able to evacuate during that firestorm. Their daughter had gotten up early on a Sunday morning to go to the bathroom. She had smelled smoke and looked outside. Another teenager was running in the street and told her to get out.

The family left just before flames consumed their house. Cheryl had no time to grab her purse. She was left with no official proof of who she was.

Quite a story.

Since then, the family rebuilt. But the marriage dissolved -- the stress of reconstruction didn't help. Cheryl had to move into a rented house in the same neighborhood.

And, this week, she found herself being evacuated again. The flames stayed away from her home but she said the experience of fleeing the fire was much more orderly this time around. She had plenty of warning and plenty of time to collect the most valuable of possessions.

She said dealing with the insurance company was more difficult than she had hoped. She said that unlike her neighbors, the family's new house was not much bigger than the one they lost. After the divorce, she had to sell and move out dropping the price over and over again in a slumping real estate market.

She said that the stress the fire caused has never really gone away.

"People think once you rebuild from the fire that it's all back to normal," she said. "But it's not -- not always."

-- Scott Lewis

Guest post: Fire and football

Scott Lewis is executive editor at He is among members of the community we have asked to post thoughts, news and follow-ups to the current Southern California wildfire story.

Throughout the week of fire, there has been a series of headlines usually tucked in below all of the important news. The stream of updates had to do with what seemed like an overly agonizing decision about when and where to play the Chargers game. Government and team officials passed this decision around like the hottest of potatoes. And they just passed it off completely. The game had been scheduled for Sunday.

About Tuesday, as the fires were raging and causing evacuations all the way to the coast, the Chargers decided to move their practices to Arizona.

By Wednesday, they had decided to pass the decision on when the game would occur over to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders:

The Chargers are fully prepared to implement whatever decision the Mayor makes, including either playing the game at Qualcomm Stadium or relocating the game to another facility out of the San Diego area.

The mayor on Thursday sent the decision back to the Chargers:

"Should they decide to play in San Diego, the stadium will be ready on Sunday," said Fred Sainz, the mayor's spokesman. "It's their decision to play in San Diego or not."

Neither side wanted to be saddled with responsibility for a potentially controversial choice. After all, the air in San Diego is still hazy. The fires are still burning in parts of the county. It doesn't take a genius
to figure out some choice criticism for the team or the city for callously putting resources into a game.

So no decision came.

Until Friday, when the NFL stepped in. Chargers President Dean Spanos explained that, after all that, it was the NFL's choice all along.

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