This is the view from Marina del Rey on the coast looking back at the Station Fire. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times / August 29, 2009) This photo is from the LA Times' web site photo gallery.
LA Times has the best general coverage since they are right in the middle of it and have a lot of practice covering this kind of disaster.
For those who like to track such things, here is a map of the fires, their anticipated paths, and the evacuation zones. The fires are burning in the foothills along the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley, almost due north of LA itself. It is a heavily populated area that backs onto wilderness areas. The terrain is a series of sharp, steep canyons that run for miles back into the hills and are packed with brush that hasn't burned in decades. This picture should give you an idea of the terrain and vegetation:
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / August 30, 2009)
Firefighters defend a home on Canalda Drive in La Cañada Flintridge.
The canyons act like funnels, bringing the fires straight down into the developed areas sitting at the mouths of the canyons.
The temperatures have been in triple digits with humidity almost zero. There's a little cooling today and tomorrow, but then temperatures are due to go back up again. The only saving grace at the moment is that we don't have Santa Ana wind conditions, which whips up the fires and makes them spread faster and more widely.
So far, San Diego county has not had any major fires break out, though there was a 1,000 acre blaze on Camp Pendleton at the north edge of the county. The company I work for provides IT infrastructure for the city and county (communications, portable data centers, mobile computing, command and control operations, etc.) when disasters hit, so we're all on alert until the rains come in November. We're keeping fingers crossed we don't have anything like the fires in 2007. A nice, quiet, low fire year would be just dandy, thankyouverymuch.