California bent on rebuilding despite wildfire risk

Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:31pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Twice in the span of a month, wildfires have ravaged the same northeast corner of greater Los Angeles, destroying hundreds of homes and the good life offered by California's scenic beauty at the city's edge.

Visiting a mobile home park in the chaparral-covered foothills where 500 dwellings were leveled in the latest firestorm, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Sunday: "Every single time there is a fire like that we learn new things."

This time, he said, the state learned it should apply stricter building codes to mobile homes. But at no point did the popular governor say Californians shouldn't be living in these high-risk fire areas. Quite the contrary.

"We want to let the people know that the state is with you, we're going to help to get your homes back and your structures back, to get your lives back," Schwarzenegger said.

Over 1,000 homes have been destroyed since last Thursday in a swarm of wind-driven brush fires that struck a luxury coastal enclave of Montecito, the northeastern Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar and several communities in Orange County.

Some of the same Sylmar residents chased from their homes this past weekend were forced to evacuate last month by two other fires that burned about 100 structures in nearby areas.

Many displaced residents, whether they inhabited humble mobile homes or opulent mansions, are bent on rebuilding.

Brittney Fowler, 23, who lost the Yorba Linda home she had lived in her whole life, said her family would "definitely" rebuild their large house overlooking a wooded canyon.   Continued...

<p>A home decimated by recent wildfires sits abandoned in a Yorba Linda, California neighborhood November 18, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>