updated 7/20/2015 12:18:06 PM ET 2015-07-20T16:18:06

Show: HARDBALL
Date: July 17, 2015
Guest: Mubin Shaikh, Robert Costa, Tony Shin, Melody Lardner

STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: The search for a motive in the
Chattanooga attacks.

This is HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.

We`re learning new details about yesterday`s shooting at two military
facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the gunman behind them.
According to federal investigators, the attack is being looked at as an act
of terrorism. Mohammod Youssef Abdulazeez was armed with at least two
rifles and one handgun. A law enforcement official tells NBC News one of
those weapons was an AK-47 type assault rifle.

Authorities have still not identified a motive, and the shooter has
not yet been linked to ISIS or any other terror group. And sources tell
NBC News that so far, nothing has turned up on his electronic devices, no
suicide video or manifesto.

Investigators say they are looking into his recent travel overseas.
Last year, he flew to Jordan, where his family is from. He didn`t return
to the United States for seven months.

Also today, we learned the identities of all four of his victims.
Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan served two tours in Iraq. He`s from
Hampton, Massachusetts. That`s in western Massachusetts. Staff Sergeant
David Wyatt served one tour in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. He`s from
Burke, North Carolina.

Sergeant Carson Holmquist of Polk, Wisconsin, served two tours in
Afghanistan, and Lance Corporal Skip Wells joined in February of 2014, and
he is from Cobb County, Georgia.

For more from Chattanooga, I`m joined now by NBC`s Sarah Dallof. So
Sarah, what -- Sarah -- excuse me -- what is the latest you are learning on
the scene there?

SARAH DALLOF, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Steve.
Investigators, as you know, have been working around the clock to try to
answer these difficult questions ever since the shooter opened fire on this
recruiting center here behind me, spraying some 25 bullets into the
storefront.

Now, what we`ve learned today is that he had at least three guns.
Now, according to a law enforcement official, one of them was an AK-47-type
assault rifle, one was a 12-gauge shotgun and one was a .9-millimeter
pistol.

The shooter also appeared to be wearing a load-bearing vest that he
had stocked with extra ammunition. We`re told that he purchased one of
those guns from a dealer, one at least from a private individual. Unsure
about how he obtained that third firearm.

Now, according to the FBI, it appears that the shooter was killed by
Chattanooga police and did not take his own life. Those police officers
were praised by the police chief this afternoon, who says officers actually
dragged one of their wounded colleagues out of the line of fire and into
safety. He called them heroes. He described yesterday as the saddest and
yet the proudest day of his career.

That wounded officer is said to be in high spirits, although, Steve,
we have been told he is in a lot of pain right now. Back to you.

KORNACKI: All right, Sarah Dallof on the ground in Chattanooga, thank
you for that report.

And for more now, we`re joined by NBC News justice correspondent Pete
Williams. So Pete, Mohammod Youssef Abdulazeez -- what more do we know
about him right now?

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the authorities are
trying to figure out still what the motive was, why he did this. They say
they don`t know yet. All of his electronics are up here at the FBI lab in
Quantico, where they`re going through them and trying to figure out what
they can find from there.

They`re also looking at his travel. He`s been to Jordan several
times. He started traveling there when he was in high school. He took
trips that ranged between a couple of weeks to a couple of months,
sometimes traveling with his father.

And one of the most interesting trips to the FBI is the trip he took
last year, the most recent one, which was to Jordan for about seven months,
six to seven months. They want to know whether, while he was there, he
went to any other Middle Eastern countries.

He had two passports, an American passport because he was a U.S.
naturalized citizen, and also a Jordanian passport, and he could have used
that to help cover his tracks, if you will. Now, they don`t know if he
did, but they`re asking our foreign intelligence service partners to help
them figure out whether he did travel outside of Jordan and where he went
in Jordan. These are all questions that are unanswered at this point.

They`re -- they really don`t know what the motive was, and they hope
to know in the next day or so if they can get anything out of the
electronic devices. But so far, nothing has come forth to indicate what it
might be.

KORNACKI: And Pete, there have been these widely circulated blog
posts, and I guess one maybe from a few days before this happened, where
possibly, apparently, maybe the shooter is talking about, Life is short, we
need to submit to Allah.

What do you know about the authenticity of those blog posts? Is that
something that`s getting -- I imagine that`s getting a lot of scrutiny
here.

WILLIAMS: That, along with anything else they can find that he may
have written. That one was written -- that last blog post was July 13th,
three days before the shooting. So they want to know what exactly --
there`s two ways to read that. One is that it seems to be just the
expressions of a devout Muslim about the need to serve Allah. But there`s
another way to read it, where he says, Life is bitter, and he talks about
the people who served Allah with jihad.

So it`s hard to know exactly what that means. Let me put it this way.
They don`t find that in any way conclusive.

KORNACKI: All right. Well, earlier today, Congressman Michael McCaul
-- he`s the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee -- he said that he
believed the gunman was inspired by ISIS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: We`ve seen too much of this traffic.
There are too many warning signs. The targets are identical to the targets
called by ISIS to attack. So my judgment and my experience is that this
was an ISIS-inspired attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Now, later at a press conference, the FBI special agent-in-
charge, Ed Reinhold, was asked about that speculation from the congressman.
He said he couldn`t confirm it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED REINHOLD, FBI SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: At this time, we have no
indication that he was inspired by or directed by anyone other than
himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Well, so Pete, I wonder if you could sort of parse that for
us or maybe take a shot at it because what the congressman is basically
saying there is, Hey, look, you know, this is too much of a coincidence.
You look at the sorts of attacks that ISIS is calling for, the sorts of
targets they`re talking about, and this fits it to a tee.

WILLIAMS: Yes, and frankly, there are a lot of people inside law
enforcement who are saying the same thing, and in the intelligence
community, as well. Congressman McCaul was careful to say that was his own
conclusion, based merely on what is publicly known. And the FBI has said
they`re just not there yet in terms of the investigation.

But you know, I think one reason that they can`t take their eyes off
the terrorism possibility is the fact that this was -- these were military
facilities that were attacked. And one of the themes in ISIS social media
repeatedly over the past six months is, Attack military facilities.

Just today, the military has again tried to adjust to this. The
Marine Corps has shut down its recruiting centers within 40 miles or so of
where the attack was. It`s told people not to wear their uniforms just as
a prudent response to this.

But you know, we`ve heard of this advice to military people, not to
wear their uniforms in public. We`ve heard about U.S. military bases going
to a higher level of security for months now precisely because of this
constant barrage of social media suggestions that people attack military
targets.

KORNACKI: All right, Pete Williams from NBC News, thank you for your
time tonight. I appreciate that.

And here`s more from Congressman Michael McCaul, again, the chairman
of the Homeland Security Committee, earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAUL: I have a lot of emotions about what happened yesterday. This
is the event we`ve been most worried about, and then it happened. I don`t
know how many more of these could happen, but I can tell you there are ISIS
investigations in all 50 states across the United States of America.

They`re permeating our society and this country through the Internet
and through social media.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: I`m joined now by Mubin Shaikh, a self-described one-time
supporter of militant jihadi culture. He eventually turned his back on
radical Islam and went to work for the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service as an undercover operative.

Mubin, thanks for joining us.

So I`m just curious, based on your sort of intimate knowledge of this
world, when you look at the clues that are out in public right now, this
question that`s being raised of, you know, was this a lone wolf, was this
somebody who was simply inspired by something overseas, could there have
been more coordination with a group overseas -- there`s this trip to Jordan
that`s coming under some scrutiny now.

Does this look like anything in particular to you?

MUBIN SHAIKH, FMR. COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIVE: Yes, I think the signs
are there, as many other individuals have suspected or speculated, that
it`s ISIS-inspired at this point. And the difference between inspired and
directed is simply if you -- if you just subscribe to their ideology and
you self-activate and you act on your own behalf, they will take credit for
it.

But directed means you went somewhere, you received training from
someone, they told you specifically which targets or maybe they told you to
scope out the targets, and then you went and did the attack.

In this case, this guy went to a military recruiting center, drove 10
miles, went to another military facility. I mean, it was very deliberate.
It seems that he`s -- he`d probably done surveillance of the targets
already. He could have just -- you know, he had enough guns and ammunition
to hit civilians, but he didn`t.

And I`m suspecting that you will see probably some kind of foreign
grievance attached to this, probably related to the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. This is a consistent theme with domestic terrorist attacks.

KORNACKI: And I think what you`re describing there, the difference
between the inspired and directed attacks -- the inspired ones, in a way, I
think, probably cause more worry over here because they seem less -- less
capable of us stopping in any way because you`re -- you`re not trying to
break up a network that might have all these communications going on and
extensive planning and coordination.

You`re just talking about an individual who maybe is in a chat room or
reading a message board on line, gets an idea in their head, and the next
thing you know, you`re -- they`re acting on it. Seems that`s a scarier
possibility to a lot of people.

SHAIKH: Yes, rightfully so. I mean, and even in your scenario, you
assume that he`s in chatroom and he`s leaving a digital footprint. Digital
footprints can be detected. The worst is where they don`t leave a digital
footprint.

In this case, you know, these two blog posts, for example -- and you
could read into those -- those blog posts. For example, the one where, you
know, he gives a parable of the men describing the elephant. You know, he
talks about making hejira (ph), emigrating to the supposed caliphate. This
is ISIS-speak. The idea that -- or the fact that he attacked in Ramadan
itself, this is exactly what ISIS was saying, you know?

And the idea that -- I mean, he`s a devout Muslim. You know, he was
up on DUI charges. It`s possible that, you know, because of the shame and
guilt of that -- he was -- I think he was supposed to be up in court to
deal with that issue. Maybe that was an aggravating factor in this and
kind of made it easier for him to just go out in a blaze of glory.

KORNACKI: I`m curious, too, if you make anything of the seven-month
trip to the Middle East that now the FBI is going to be looking closely at.
I mean, on the one hand, maybe it could be just to visit family. On the
other hand, you know, speculation would be maybe there`s some kind of
coordination going on on a trip like that. Or maybe it`s something in
between, where there`s just exposure to ideas maybe he wouldn`t get over
here. I`m curious what you make of that.

SHAIKH: Yes, it`s -- of course, hindsight is 20/20. We`re going to
scrutinize that trip moreso than we would normally. But if we heard that
somebody, you know, was going to the Middle East, that`s not a red flag.
People do that all the time.

I`m curious to see -- he didn`t manifest any kind of sudden religious
change before he went. That sudden change happened after he went. So it
does beg the question, you know, what happened while he was there? Did he
actually meet someone and was radicalized by somebody, and thus maybe it
was -- it`s a directed attack?

Or did he just go there and see for himself? Was he just watching the
news and saw what was happening and decided to blame the U.S. it, for
whatever it could have been? He could have, you know, bought into the
narrative of ISIS.

You know, there`s a lot of sympathies in Jordan. There`s certain
segments in Jordan that do have sympathies towards ISIS, so...

KORNACKI: All right, Mubin Shaikh, appreciate your time tonight.
Thank you very much.

SHAIKH: Thanks.

KORNACKI: And much more from Chattanooga later in the hour.

But coming up, 2016 politics. Donald Trump`s the Republican front-
runner in yet another national poll, and he`s turning the Republican race
into a roast. And that giant sucking sound you hear, it`s Trump hogging
the spotlight from the rest of the field.

Plus, Hillary Clinton and the other Democrats running for president
are all on stage in Iowa for the first time together tonight. Clinton`s
looking to avoid what happened in Iowa to her eight years ago, where she
finished in third place behind both Barack Obama and John Edwards.
Remember him?

The right wing is trying to turn the horrible chain of events in
Chattanooga into Benghazi Lite. We`ll look at the political pile-on from
the likes of Trump, Jindal and Krauthammer and why it sounds so familiar.

Finally, also, selling the Iran nuclear deal. President Obama has his
work cut out for him with Congress, and now top Democratic senator Chuck
Schumer of New York said he has no problem voting against the president.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Former U.S. congressman Michael Grimm has been sentenced to
eight months in prison. The Republican from New York`s Staten Island pled
guilty last year to tax fraud following a federal investigation into his
campaign finances.

Prosecutors had asked for two years in prison. Defense attorneys had
argued that Grimm should not serve any time at all. Grimm resigned from
his seat last December after winning reelection.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will make America
great again, better than ever before. We`ll do it fast. We`ll do it
effectively. And you are going to love the job I do! That I can tell you.
That I can tell you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Appreciate it. And remember, the silent majority is back, and
don`t forget it. This is the silent majority. And thank you. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Donald Trump stumping
last night in New Hampshire, flashing his usual bluster and bravado to the
Granite State faithful, who were eating it up.

And they`re not the only ones. According to a new Fox News poll out
just today, 70 percent of Republicans say that they agree with Trump`s
controversial comments about Mexico. The cover of "The New Yorker" speaks
for itself. Trump`s belly-flop into the race has thrown the Republican
primary into chaos.

Trump is the front-runner in that Fox poll with 18 percent. He now
leads Scott walker by 3, Jeb Bush by 4. Those three appear to be pulling
away from the field just a little bit. Since June, Trump`s gains have been
-- well, they`ve been huge. He`s up 14 points in just a matter of weeks.
But over that same time, Walker has managed to gain 3 points, as well, and
Jeb Bush has gained 2 points. But if you`re outside that top three, your
support is either drying up or it`s going nowhere.

Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. Robert Costa
is a national political reporter. Both are with "The Washington Post."

So Robert, let me start with you. In terms of taking the oxygen away
from the rest of this field, the effect Donald Trump has had -- the one
candidate whose been really interesting for me to watch in terms of how
he`s dealing with Trump has been Ted Cruz because Ted Cruz is the only one
who`s out there saying nice things about Donald Trump.

And what I`m reading that as is a calculation by Ted Cruz that this
Trump thing has a shelf life, and that when he implodes, Ted Cruz, by being
nice to him now, will be able to vacuum up his voters then. Is Ted Cruz
making a smart calculation with that?

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST": "The Post" got that scoop this week.
And I think Cruz has a strategy here, but it could be a risky gamble
because Donald Trump -- he`s an unpredictable politician.

Even if you think you`re courting him, you`re doing all the right
things, you`re going to Trump Tower, that guarantees nothing. You say one
line against Trump in a debate, he could get angry. That support, possible
support, could evaporate.

KORNACKI: Well, so Eugene Robinson, do you think -- is he helping --
I mean, we know he`s hurting, you know, for instance, you know, Marco
Rubio. We haven`t heard that much from him lately. Is there anybody in
this field that Donald Trump, besides Donald Trump himself, that Donald
Trump`s candidacy is actually helping at this point?

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
think you could argue that he`s helping Jeb Bush, in that he`s taking away
from the others, right? You saw Trump and Walker and Bush in a top
echelon, and everyone else losing support. So he`s hurting all the others.

He -- he could establish Jeb Bush as sort of the safe, sane
establishment alternative. And, you know, Scott Walker, we will have to
see. He just announced. Let`s see if this sort of bump that he`s getting
persists. But, right now, I would have to say potentially Jeb Bush. But
wait until the first debate.

KORNACKI: Well, life after Trump is proving difficult for many
candidates in the Republican field. According to that Fox News poll out
today, the support for Ben Carson, the darling of the Tea Party movement,
has been cut in half since Trump got in the race.

The support for Ted Cruz -- we mentioned him a minute ago -- another
Tea Party loyalist, that`s also been cut in half. Mike Huckabee`s support
has dropped by a few points. He`s an evangelical candidate that you would
not expect to be significantly impacted by Trump.

Rick Perry is fighting for relevancy in this early stage of the race.
Trump is going at him hard. Perry is now at 1 percent. There are also
long shot candidates like Lindsey Graham and George Pataki. They have gone
from barely registering in the polls to not registering at all.

Robert Costa, we played that clip right there. He`s talking about the
silent majority, a term we haven`t heard used since Nixon days. Donald
Trump says he`s bringing the silent majority back. I look at his gains, I
look at those numbers we just put up, and there`s also some other polling
out this week that showed his approval rating, his popularity specifically
with Tea Party voters has just completely turned around in the last month.
They were against him. Now they`re very much for him.

When Donald Trump says the silent majority, is he talking about the
Tea Party?

COSTA: In a sense, he is, but he`s also talking to people who are fed
up and frustrated with politics in general, who aren`t part of the normal
Republican coalition.

I was at that Phoenix rally with Mr. Trump, walked around him,
shadowed and reported as he navigated that convention center. And he met
so many people who aren`t the normal CPAC conservative crowd. These are
people who are just really not voting for the last cycles. Now they see in
Trump an outsider they can maybe rally around.

This is why he scares those rivals on the right, because to see
someone who is not only eating into the conservative bloc, he`s building
his own new coalition that has some independents, moderates in it as well.

KORNACKI: And, Gene, the other thing is, you look at those polls, the
rules that are in place right now, this first Republican debate, we`re now
only about three weeks away from that. And we have seen in the past, these
debates, they can make or break candidacies.

They`re saying the top 10 in the polls coming into that debate get a
ticket, they get to go on stage. The rest of them, forget it. They`re not
there. Donald Trump is -- first of all, he`s going to cost somebody else,
maybe a sitting governor, a senator, something like that, a spot on that
stage.

He`s also making it impossible for those candidates to get attention
right now to make sure they`re in that top 10.

ROBINSON: That`s absolutely right.

He`s keeping them out of the running right now. And then wait until
you get to the debate, because guess who`s going to hog the attention
during that session, however long it lasts? It`s going to be Donald Trump.
He knows how to get attention. And he`s better at that, I would venture,
than any of the other Republican candidates or perhaps better than all of
them put together in getting attention.

You give him that sort of stage, he could go after Bush, he could go
after -- I think Rick Perry may try to go after him, if Rick Perry makes
the debate. And Trump would just jump all over him. It`s going to be
entertaining.

COSTA: Steve...

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Yes, go ahead, Robert.

COSTA: One thing I noted, when I was with Trump, I asked him about
the debates. And you know what he said? He shrugged. He said whatever,
because he actually doesn`t think he needs the debates as a launching pad.
He can go on TV any day, talk to any news outlet, make news, put the
pressure on his rivals and his competitors.

And so he actually doesn`t see the debates as that important. He sees
it as his opportunity to hog the stage and let the cards fall where they
may.

KORNACKI: All right, thank you to Gene Robertson, Robert Costa.

Actually, we have to cut in there with some breaking news to bring
you. A brushfire has jumped a highway in Southern California. You`re
looking live right now at a picture of Interstate 15 at the El Cajon Pass.
Several cars are on fire right now.

There are reports that some people may have suffered burns. We`re
going to listen in to the coverage from our NBC station KNBC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... extend that fire hose as close as possible to
the fire

I`m going to go ahead and pan over to the right, which is going to be
towards the north. And you can see that that car carrier that is now
burning out of control, several cars on fire there, the cab of the car
carrier, as well as a couple of SUVs sitting right above it there, a very
significant fire now just a hundred feet north of that original car fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, Chris, you mentioned those people who are
walking along the shoulder. We saw that as well and speculated perhaps
they were being led by fire crews, but your impression is that, no, they
were not.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here, there does not appear to be any
authority leading them in any one direction.

These are folks who are literally left on the freeway now with
themselves and their property, the property being their vehicles, and many
of them abandoning their vehicles, some folks actually walking closer to
the flames. You know, this is such a dangerous situation.

You still have parts of the guardrail that are on fire here. You can
see different posts with flames skirting the freeway here and fires
breaking out now left and right. It`s just a terrible situation. And
folks are literally walking in the middle of all this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris, we`re going to stay on your pictures
here. It looks like we have two major fires burning, the car carrier that
we`re looking at right now, and then just I would say less than a quarter
of a mile away from that, we have the other fire.

But we have with us on the phone someone with the U.S. Forest Service.

Are you with us still?

U.S. Forest -- no, we seem to have lost him.

All right, Chris, we`re going to go back out to you at this point.
Where is the closest water as best you can tell out there? Other than what
is being dropped from the water-dropping choppers, where are they having to
go to get any kind of resource?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without speculating too much, I really can`t say,
because there`s really no body of water too close to here. And that would
explain why the water drops are, if you will, few and far between.

It`s just hard to make out. I cannot think of any body of water in
this vicinity, but you can see another fire now breaking out, just --
breaking out, rather, just to the west of the freeway, just off the freeway
here, just a couple of feet from the guardrail.

But this -- again, this is all the southbound lanes, so at the top
part of your screen is going to be the west side of the freeway. And
there`s hot spots breaking out on the west side, as well as the east side,
folks walking on the freeway and again that car carrier going up in flames.

Here comes another water drop as they try and get more water. He just
used his Bambi Bucket to drop some more water over the west side of the
freeway, but now that car carrier, that fire just continuing to spread.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there`s nowhere to go. The cars are not
backing off the freeway. These cars appear to be abandoned at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as we know, at this point, it appears that
all of these cars, according to CHP, upwards of 70 or 80 vehicles at least
have been abandoned here and left to burn until they can get this fire
under control.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Chris, looking at a map, the only lake I
see really nearby is Lake Mathews, and that`s not even close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not too close. That`s not too close. And
there goes the boat. The boat that we were just looking at there has
caught on fire. That just happened in the last 30 seconds. That happened
in the last 30 seconds. That`s just how quick.

All it takes is a little ember to travel across these lanes and
another car catches on fire. And there you have it, now eight vehicles and
a boat, so just a situation that`s continuing to spread. And as we can
see, it`s obvious that resources at this point at this location are very
limited, firefighters really running out of options here, relying mostly on
those helicopters to get as much water on here as possible.

But this appears to be getting worse before it gets better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

We want to once again, if people are joining us, give them a location
on this. This is the 15 Freeway just north of the 138 and south of Oak
Hills exit here.

And, Chris, you were very quick on the scene here. I guess for people
who are just tuning in and watching this, they have to be stunned by seeing
this. How did it get to this point? Normally, when there`s a brushfire
this close to the freeway, they shut down the freeway. How did it happen?
Can you explain it to us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the only way that I can imagine that these
folks managed to get this close to the flames, I mean, we heard reports
when the fire broke out shortly after 2:00, if I`m not mistaken, that this
was indeed a rapidly spreading fire.

And we hear that quite often. Depending on the amount of fuel in any
given brushfire, that dictates just how quick and how rapid that fire will
move. And when they say rapid, sometimes, they really mean a rapidly
spreading fire, and it just may have happened all too quick for any
authorities to get on scene to break up traffic, to develop a traffic break
and keep these people out of harm`s way. Fortunately, as we have heard,
most of them have been able to self-evacuate. Some folks have been
injured. We`re still working on those numbers.

But it appears that whatever happened here shortly after 2:00 happened
so quick that there are a large number of innocent bystanders, drivers,
motorists who are on the 15 Freeway and they were just unable to escape, at
least get their cars out of harm`s way. We just hope that as many as
possible were able to get out of their cars and at least save their own
lives and their own family`s lives, their passengers, but you can see a lot
of cars going up in flames.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris, I have seen so many people on the side of
the freeway. So, that`s at least some good news, that we do know people
did manage to get out. We don`t know if everyone got out.

But Tony Shin is in the thick of it now. And he joins us now live.

Tony, where are you?

TONY SHIN, KNBC REPORTER: I`m just north of the 138, probably about
1,000 yards.

And take a look behind me. You can see, as we head north right there,
that`s the 15 Freeway where right below that smoke plume is the 15. And
let me tell you, the traffic is absolutely horrific right now.

A lot of people trying to head north on the 15, they are getting
angry. I have seen people drive wildly trying to head north toward this
fire, I`m guessing to try to get home to Hesperia or Victorville or
somewhere in the high desert, not realizing what kind of danger they`re
heading to.

That`s one of the reasons why we pulled off and said, you know what?
Let`s get off on the 138. It`s a safe distance away. We can see what`s
going on and you can see what`s going on. There`s a lot of smoke, there
are huge flames. The wind is picking up right now. I mean, since I have
been here for the past, what, five, 10 minutes, the wind has really gone up
dramatically.

I just lost my phone connection. So if you`re trying to talk to me, I
hope you understand, I`m going to try to redial in. In the meantime, I can
tell you that we haven`t seen any traffic going north on the 15 at this
point. Of course, southbound traffic is stopped.

A lot of people are trying to get home. They`re just going to have to
be patient, because at this point, as you can see, this fire is just
burning out of control. It`s a very scary situation. We all know exactly
how dry it is out here. And then when have that wind picking up, this is
exactly what can happen.

Now the question is, what started this fire? That`s the big question.
Was it a careless situation with a cigarette thrown out a window? Was it
some kind of catalytic converter? These are things that they are going to
be looking at once this is over. But once again, before I send it back to
you, you can see this plume of smoke. And right now, it looks like this
fire is heading up the hill towards the Phelan area, so, just to give you
an idea of what it looks like from our vantage point.

We will go ahead and send it back to you in the studio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what, Tony, we want to remind people,
too, unless you see these pictures, you couldn`t believe it was happening
here.

The 15 is shut down in both directions. And we want to remind people,
we`re glued to the television and the pictures coming in live from the
area. But if you have to step away, you can also watch this on our NBCLA
app. We`re streaming this live.

There, see another water-dropping chopper trying to put out this fire.

KORNACKI: All right, been listening live to coverage from our
affiliate out there in California.

Joining us now live from our Los Angeles bureau is NBC News
correspondent Hallie Jackson.

Hallie, what can you tell us?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: As, Steve, you look at these
pictures, they`re stunning.

We have learned new information from Cal Fire, which is that there are
some burn victims because of this. We don`t know how many at this point,
but we know that several ambulances, two medevac choppers are on scene.
So, some victims burned, some we understand suffering from smoke inhalation
as well. Some 500 acres have burned from what`s being called the North
Fire.

It`s incredibly fast-moving. And possibly some homes or buildings
have been destroyed. There are mandatory evacuation orders in place for
the area around this. And you look at this, you heard it from the chopper
pilot there on KNBC. People haven`t seen something like this before.

We`re looking at maybe a dozen cars, maybe more catching fire. We
have been watching here in our Los Angeles newsroom. One by one, you`re
seeing the flames spread, firefighters trying to get in there. But so far,
even airdrops, we have seen at least three or four airdrops, water of
course being dropped on the cars.

That basically did nothing, Steve. You just saw a big plume of steam.
And now if we`re looking further down the highway, you can see another
section where at least one, two cars are on fire, plus the front of that
tractor-trailer.

This shows no sign of stopping any time soon, Steve. We understand
there was a drone in the area before. Here in California, especially in
Southern California, we have had problems with drones flying over wildfires
and firefighters being forced to call off the aircraft. Luckily, that did
not happen in this case. The drones went away, according to Cal Fire.
That`s a good thing. But obviously it`s something they`re keeping an eye
on, but this absolutely stunning.

At one point, Steve, we even saw people walking on the highway past
where these cars were burning to get their cars, which were further up the
freeway out of the way. So, it`s certainly -- to say it`s a mess is an
understatement.

KORNACKI: And, Hallie, I wonder for viewers who don`t necessarily
know the geography of Southern California, the West Coast, we`re watching
this here from New York City.

JACKSON: Yes.

KORNACKI: This is El Cajon, California. This is about, what, 10
miles east of San Diego?

JACKSON: Yes, it`s actually out by San Bernardino, the Cajon Pass.
You might have heard it on KNBC.

They said, if you`re going to Vegas, don`t go that away. It`s a place
where people kind of head especially when they are east of the city. It`s
not an especially populated area, but it`s certainly incredibly busy,
particularly -- remember, right now, it`s 4:30, the beginning of rush hour.

So, you see all the cars that are on the highway. People have no
place to go, particularly the ones that are behind the response team. We
saw some fire trucks and firefighters on the highway there.

KORNACKI: And this is -- you were saying it sounds like you have not
seen something like this before. We hear all the time about the drought
conditions in California, the risks of fire, but seeing a fire spread to a
highway like this, this is not something you have seen happen out there?

JACKSON: You know I haven`t been in L.A. quite that long, Steve, but
it`s certainly unexpected to see.

We have wildfires all the time. There have been hundreds so far this
year already. And the drought conditions certainly mean they`re spreading
faster than ever, particularly when you combine them with the extreme heat
that we`re seeing in the summertime.

But to see something like this, right, to see something where the
wildfire -- and, again, we don`t know what started this car fire, but where
you see this so close together, it`s incredibly unusual. And to see --
look at this -- a dozen cars completely engulfed, it`s wild.

KORNACKI: It also seems -- you mentioned there were the water drops
that -- we saw a couple of those take place in these shots. We saw a boat
that was being towed by one of these cars catch on fire just as the camera
was shooting it.

JACKSON: Yes.

KORNACKI: It seems right now, I`m just looking at all of the burning
and all of the smoke on my screen, and I`m really not seeing much water
being brought in there right now. It seems maybe authorities still just
figuring out how to approach this.

JACKSON: You know, think about the danger though when you get to
something like this, right? Cars on the freeway, you don`t know how much
gas is in these cars. You don`t know what could happen if this fire
continues to spread.

We have seen airdrops, though. The helicopters have come over. They
have dropped. Unfortunately, it hasn`t appeared to do much when you look
at the intensity of these flames.

KORNACKI: Yes, it looks like we`re seeing a helicopter...

JACKSON: There`s one right now, yes.

KORNACKI: ... hovering right there. Yes, it looks like another one
of those water drops.

And, again, this is -- it`s 7:30 here on the East Coast, 4:30 on the
West Coast. So, we`re talking basically rush hour traffic here on a summer
Friday. This must have just brought this portion of Southern California to
a complete -- a complete standstill.

JACKSON: And, as you might imagine, it`s on every news station here
in Los Angeles, here in Southern California. Everybody has broken in,
since we are right around news time, to let people know, stay away from
this area.

The last thing the firefighters need is more people coming in, more
people driving this way. If you can avoid this area, obviously, you need
to. But even in our own newsroom here, Steve, people are sort of glued to
this as we watch another water drop.

But even there, the water drops, you see the orange flames fly right
back up.

KORNACKI: Right, look at that. I mean, again right now, what they`re
fighting this with right now, the fire, seems no match.

Right now, again, just to update viewers, if you could, Hallie, you
were saying the medical situation here, there are, you`re reporting,
several burn victims. What exactly do we know on that front?

JACKSON: Correct.

Unfortunately, the information is still coming in. But we have
confirmed -- and we want to be careful with our reporting -- that there are
injuries from burns. We don`t know how many victims, as we take another
look there at the wildfire that`s further -- further off the highway.

So, we don`t know how many victims from burns. We don`t know how many
have inhaled smoke, although there are some patients being treated. The
medical response is pretty intense, as you might imagine, ambulances, two
medevac choppers that are out there on scene.

So, even sort of the responders are still trying to gather this
information and figure this out as we`re reporting it.

KORNACKI: And, Hallie, too, I wonder if you can just tell us, life in
California, we know about the water rationing that is taking place, the
limits on water use that are taking place.

Life in California right now, with the incredible drought conditions
out there, the risks for fires like this, what`s it been like out there the
last year or so, the last few months?

JACKSON: Awful. In a word, not good.

We talk about it all the time with California fire officials. And
it`s something that we don`t get on the East Coast. You don`t see it the
same way back East, but out here, people know that wildfires are kind of a
way of life. California officials have warned that because of the drought,
there`s more -- they call it fuel for the fires. Obviously, we`re talking
about brush. We`re talking about timber that`s just dried.

It is like lighting a match to brush, basically. So it goes up faster
than we have seen. It`s possible -- we said it last year, we`re saying it
again this year from California officials that this could be the worst
wildfire season yet. It`s obviously a concern.

It`s something that we have to live with here in Southern California
and really throughout the West on a daily basis. There`s not much you can
do, other than try to be responsible with how you interact with the
environment.

KORNACKI: And, again, if you`re just joining us and looking at these
pictures, to update you on what we`re following right now, this is a
wildfire that`s jumped on to Interstate 15 in Southern California. This is
El Cajon, California. That is to the east of San Diego.

You`re looking right now at a tractor-trailer that`s caught on fire.
Looks like -- we were looking there a minute ago at some firefighters who
were actually on the ground behind it with some water, with some hoses. We
have also been seeing -- there you go -- you can see it there on the side
of it right now.

There are a number of vehicles right now on that highway that are on
fire. We have actually -- in the last 10 minutes of watching this, we have
seen vehicles catch on fire. This is obviously a very volatile situation.
There are -- there`s a helicopter, at least one helicopter -- there`s
probably multiple helicopters flying overhead that have been dropping water
intermittently.

It -- as we have been seeing, it hasn`t done much at this point.
That`s obviously an incredible fire they`re up against there.

And Hallie -- Hallie Jackson is joining us from -- from Los Angeles,
our reporter out there.

Hallie Jackson, the weather obviously, it looks like a nice typical
southern California day. Is it particularly hot out there today,
particularly dry?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, interesting that
you ask that, Steve, because we just got word from Cal Fire in about the
last two minutes, that this is a wind-driven fire. It`s very windy where
this is happening. So, that is a huge factor in this. That`s visible even
to the naked eye.

Look how far the smoke is blowing. I mean, you can see it, it`s not
heading straight up, right? You can see the wind is taking it up the pass.
So, that`s the latest information from Cal Fire.

As for the weather, it`s a typical -- I would say it`s a typical July
day for California. Hot, obviously, but nothing particularly extreme.

I want to remind you, too, we`re zoomed in on this picture because
it`s stunning. I mean, we`ve seen -- even as we`ve been talking, Steve, in
that last 10 minutes, this fire starting at the cab of the tractor trailer.
It spread almost halfway down the truck. However, if you pull up, you can
see how big this is together, some 500-plus acres.

There are mandatory evacuations in place. People are being forced to
leave their homes because of this, to make sure that they stay safe. So,
that`s worth mentioning as well.

KORNACKI: All right. And again, I say that was El Cajon, California.
It`s actually, the Cajon Pass, where this is playing out, in southern
California, Interstate 15. Those are -- that is where the images you`re
seeing on your screen are coming from.

Look at the black smoke coming out of that tractor trailer right now.

MSNBC`s Chris Hayes joins us now from Los Angeles. Chris has been
reporting on the drought in California all week.

So, Chris, we just cut in 15 minutes ago. We`re looking at this
incredible scene on the Interstate, I guess, south of where you are right
now.

Just your reaction looking at this?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC`S "ALL IN" HOST: Well, you can see -- you can
actually see the plumes of smoke emanating up over the Santa Monica
Mountains, which are right behind me here, over my right shoulder. We`re
here at the Griffith Observatory.

You know, this has been already a really bad fire season. We saw that
50 percent year over year increase in calls to Cal Fire, that was reported
by "The New York Times". This weekend, I did a flyover with the air chief
for the San Diego department. He was just pointing out all the spots that
they have fought fires last year. They had seen last year historically
anomalous behavior. He said, starting in May which is before fire season
starts, they have some of their biggest fires. They saw fires burning
along the coast. If there`s anything anomalous here, it is how quickly
this fire moved and the fact that he got to that freeway before it could be
evacuated, the cars.

That gives you a sense of how fast it moved. And the reason it moved
that fast is that it was burning up a slope. In California, in southern
California, development tends to be along the ridge line. That puts
freeways and houses in the path of fire burning up a slope. Fire burning
up a slope, wildfire burning up a slope burns much, much faster because it
keeps the fuel ahead of it.

So, that is where the kind of arrow target area is, whether it`s a
freeway that`s carved into the hillside or whether it`s been a development.
And we know this thing came very fast. San Bernardino Fire Department
saying this was a 500-acre fire that moved so quickly, they were able to
get people there out of their cars. But, obviously, that`s why you`re
seeing those abandoned cars there.

And a lot of people right here looking at this, who live in California
a long time, saying they`ve never seen water drops on top of burning steel
cars on top of a highway.

KORNACKI: Yes, it`s been amazing just watching these pictures. And
also, I mean, at this point, those water drops not able to accomplish much.
I mean, we`re looking at the tractor trailer and just look at -- incredible
smoke coming out of it, and, of course, a number of other vehicles, if you
widen up the shot there, it went further up the road.

Yes, go ahead.

HAYES: Steve, if I -- let me just say that this also presents a real
problem for the firefighters on the ground there. Generally air drops like
the ones you`re seeing right now are used to support those on the ground
who are actually putting the fire out. The way those fires get put out on
the ground is that they dig trenches and they`re able to cordon it off and
put it out.

That`s a very tricky situation here where you`re doing air drops on
top of literally thousands of gallons of flammable gasoline in a huge
stretch of freeway that`s been closed off. That is a different sort of
animal than the standard procedure by which they`re going to attack
something on the hill side there.

KORNACKI: Yes, you can see in the shot that water being dropped.
Chris, just the idea of the brushfires, these wildfires that start sort of
out of nowhere and suddenly spread very quickly. This is a day-to-day fact
of life in California.

HAYES: It`s a day to day fact in California. As the San Diego fire
air activities fire chief was telling me, you need three things. You need
fuel, you need wind and you need a spark. It`s not a question of if. It`s
a question of when.

What has happened during the drought is it has exacerbated the amount
of dry fuel. The drier it is, the more things that build up, the more
things build up, the more fuel you have. The drier it is, the faster and
more quickly it burns.

Today, what`s moving this fire so quickly, according to San Bernardino
Fire Department is the high winds. We can feel how breezy it is over here.
And that`s what`s pushing that smoke that`s billowing up over my right
shoulder right here.

But the issue isn`t that these wildfires didn`t happen before the
drought. The issue is that the drought greatly intensifies. And it
intensifies each year. We`re now three years in a row, the three driest
years in the history of California record keeping, which goes back to the
mid-19th century have been the last three years. That produces more and
more dry fuel for these fires to burn.

And fire departments up and down the state already heading into this
fire season have been girding for what they think was going to be possibly
one of the most catastrophic they faced.

KORNACKI: Yes. Again, these images you see on the screen right now,
this is Interstate 15, Cajon Pass, Southern California. We`ve been focused
on the most dramatic shot right now, which is this tractor trailer that`s
been on fire. And now, it`s just black smoke gushing out of that.

There had been occasional periodic water drops from helicopters
overhead. We have seen some firefighters on the ground trying to get close
to this thing. As Chris says, a very dangerous situation for firefighters
on the ground. This is rush hour in southern California on a Friday in
summer.

And, Chris, you mentioned the drought -- the three most recent years
being the three worse in terms of drought for California. Do you have are
there some numbers you can put in terms of what drought means? How long
are we talking about without rain or with limited rain?

HAYES: Well, again, the rain in southern California is sparse to
begin with, right? So the diminution in actual rainfall here has been --
it depends upon the year in the 20 percent to 30 percent range below
normal. But in some places that plummets all the way down to 80 percent
less than normal. We`re seeing reservoir draws, some of which are at half
of their level.

Most of the water for that state is coming from the snowpack that`s
far away from here that`s in northern California. But even the dry areas
of California throughout the southern California area which is typically
arid have been much drier the last three years.

KORNACKI: All right. Chris Hayes in Los Angeles, your show is going
to start in a few minutes. We`re going to let you go, get ready for that.
But appreciate you taking a few minutes right now.

Let`s go back now to NBC`s Hallie Jackson. She is in Los Angeles.

So, Hallie, as we continue to look at these images on our screen, have
you learned anything more from authorities on this situation?

JACKSON: A little bit here. Yes, one of the questions you might be
asking yourself if you`re watching if you`re watching is why aren`t fire
trucks closer, right? Why aren`t they able to pull water on the ground and
bring it up quicker than they have been, although you see a firefighter
there now?

Here`s the reason, as these cars saw the fire creeping toward them,
obviously, people abandoned their cars. They left them right on the
highway. So, there`s nobody in them. That`s what`s creating a real
problem, a bottleneck for firefighters trying to get closer to the scene as
it pulls out, you can see how big it is.

Chris made some excellent point and let`s expand on some of those and
just flesh out the numbers. This year so far in California, there have
been some 3,300 fires, right? That is up from an average over five years
of about 2,200. So, we are seeing more fires this year than normal.

And when Chris talks about a fire burning up a canyon, that is a real
concern. That is one of the most dangerous places to be, and that`s why
fire spread so quickly.

We`re in the fourth year, remember, of this historic drought here in
California. And that is, again, providing fuel for these fires. There`s
also something called the Santa Ana winds here in southern California.
Folks who live here very familiar with it. And that can be obviously a
problem. We often see them actually right around this time in the
afternoon, as you see sort of the way that the ground heats up and the wind
picks up. Oftentimes, you`ll see wildfires kick in. Again right now, I`m
looking at the clock, 4:48 here in L.A. So, that`s another issue that
firefighters have been contending with.

So, hoping to, obviously, get a handle on this fire. Crews are out
there. You`re seeing the drops, the choppers, one for medevac and one for
serious burn victims, as well as the aircraft that is trying to get a
handle on this.

Oftentimes, if this were a land wildfire, if this were over let`s say
an area of forest, you might see what are called retardant drops. You can
see some of those red streaks. That`s retardant that has been dropped.
Obviously very difficult to do on a highway near where there are people.
So, that`s another concern for the crews out here.

KORNACKI: Yes, Hallie, this is obviously a very volatile situation
right now, the risk of this spreading further. Is there any sense how long
this would take to get under control?

JACKSON: Great question. I couldn`t answer that. And I think that
we`re just going to have to wait and see.

KORNACKI: All right. Hallie, stay with us.

And joining us now is Melody Lardner. She`s from the U.S. Forest
Service.

So, Mel, maybe I can ask that same question to you right now. I
guess, first of all, the risk that this thing spreads and gets much, much
worse than we`re seeing right now -- what is the risk of that right now?

MELODY LARDNER, U.S. FOREST SERVICE (via telephone): Well, the fire
jumped Interstate 15, so we have the vehicles on fire but also of concern
are the homes to the north of this area. We have a mandatory evacuation in
what`s called the Baldy Mesa area. And they have set up an evacuation area
and called for evacuation of those scattered homes in that area.

KORNACKI: And have you ever seen or heard of a situation like this
before where the fire actually does jump the interstate and vehicles catch
on fire like this?

LARDNER: Yes, we have seen it happening. Not probably not to this
extent, but I`m aware of. We have had vehicles catch on fire across the
freeway in the past.

KORNACKI: What`s -- are there a set of conditions that need to be in
place generally for that to happen? I mean, cars are just -- is there a
car just driving and there`s a spark or something? What would happen?

LARDNER: Well, it`s a busy Friday afternoon. We have a lot of
vacationers and travelers on Interstate 15, both commuters and vacationers
for the weekend. And this is one of those narrow crossings through the
mountains and so, it was busy with traffic.

They also have construction, so it`s, you know, reduced lanes and a
lot of slow traffic moving through there. And the fire moved at a rapid
rate of spread.

KORNACKI: In terms of controlling this right now, again, we have been
keeping an eye on that tractor trailer. You can still see flames there.
You can see an incredible amount of black smoke. We have been watching
these helicopters overhead that are dropping water. Now, you are seeing
firefighters getting closer. A plane now, looks like coming in that might
be carrying some water as well.

In terms of getting this fire on the interstate under control, Mel,
how long would something like that take?

LARDNER: I have no estimate of that. They are working as hard as
they can to control the fire on those vehicles. They are dropping water,
as you said. They also have some hoses to some of them.

Emergency equipment is having difficulty getting through because of
the congestion and abandoned vehicles that are left on the freeway with no
keys and no way to move them. And then we have multiple vehicles on fire.

KORNACKI: And in terms of the conditions that we were talking about.
There`s obviously, there`s high winds today. This is a part of the state.
This is a part of the country that doesn`t get that much precipitation to
begin with. There`s the drought on top of this.

Are there other factors that make something like this sort of go into
the equation?

LARDNER: Well, it`s very high temperatures today. It`s been in the
mid to high 90s today. And as you said, the winds are gusting through this
pass, which they often do, and it`s burned in heavy brush and grass, which
allows the fire to move at a rapid spread.

KORNACKI: We have, as we look at that airplane again, we`ve been
showing some shots of that. We have our local affiliate out there, KNBC
that`s covering this again, this wildfire that has jumped Interstate 15 in
southern California. Our affiliate has been providing constant coverage of
this since it happened.

Let`s go back and listen to them.

REPORTER: That large big rig, a complete loss, Chuck.

TV ANCHOR: It`s going to be interesting to see if they use the big
ten tanker on the freeway portion of the fire or the brush fire portion of
the fire, because as you know, it drops so much water, it`s extremely
dangerous for anyone on the ground, if they were to try it over the
freeway. But who knows? They could either do one, let`s see what`s going
to happen here.

REPORTER: I would venture to say he`s going to aim for the larger
body of fire with the fire retardant. He`s going to be aiming for --
especially now, reports of structures being threatened. I would imagine
that may be his focus. As we`re certainly as we get more information to
try to find those structures that are going up in flames.

But right now, all eyes on this group of cars, abandoned cars, we
should say, most of them we believe have been abandoned. Again, this is
all taking place on the southbound lanes of the 15 Freeway, just south of
Oak Hill Road, south of Hesperia this afternoon.

TV ANCHOR: So, Chris, you were talking about those structures. We
were talking with the fire captain and those structures are in the Baldy
Mesa area. He did confirm that structures had burned there. He didn`t
have a number on it. He also confirmed there were evacuations. This again
in the foothills of the Baldy Mesa area.

TV ANCHOR: We just got confirmation the fire is up to 2,000 acres --
2,000 acres on this fire. As we look down on this large big rig that is
still burning on the side of the 15 Freeway. Not on the side, it`s still
on the 15 Freeway as well.

We got the ten tanker, the big DC-10 tanker circling above. We are
waiting to see where it`s going to drop. Either make a drop on the freeway
or further up the hillside where some homes are also threatened. Now, you
are looking at the northbound lanes of the 15 freeway into the Barstow
area. Are those lanes open or are they shut down?

REPORTER: I`m sorry, Chuck. We`re just trying to find the DC-9. I
missed that question. One more time?

TV ANCHOR: I`m just wondering about the northbound lanes, are still
they shut down, if they open those up. We have a picture from the ground
of the DC-10.

REPORTER: The northbound lanes were getting through earlier. I can`t
see where traffic was shut down. I can tell you, as we try and find that
DC-10, once again, what I can tell you is that traffic is completely jammed
in both directions, including the northbound side of the 15 Freeway. So,
even if it`s not shut down, traffic is at a standstill coming in from San
Bernardino.

Again, both directions, northbound and southbound, these lanes here at
the center of the fire are the southbound lanes. But to answer your
question, Chuck, not clear if they have gone ahead and shut down the
northbound lanes. I believe -- was that the DC-10 that made that drop,
Nick?

TV ANCHOR: Well, there`s also -- the DC-9 was flying around. You
have two large passenger jet aircraft that are being converted for fire use
flying in the area here. Once again, we remind you just how tricky it is,
because you are in a pass, you got winds to deal with and everything else.
So, it is very tricky flying to try to get those water drops right on the
spot.

REPORTER: Yes, it`s quite a sight. As you can imagine, News Chopper
4 flying above all the fire flight with the numerous air tankers operating
in a very close proximity. Such meticulous work as they get into the thick
of the smoke and make these drops, one by one, not only air tankers, but
helicopters and all of the resources you see here this afternoon.

Again, right now, we are keeping an eye on this truck fire, which they
had been using helicopters to try and drop water on the fire. That may
help with this container here, we have no idea what was burning in there.
But when you have all those other cars were filled with gasoline,
presumably. That`s just very difficult to control.

But, finally, what we do have is firefighters in place with hose lines
to prevent the fire from spreading. And that is something we did not have
a couple hours ago, when this fire started.

TV ANCHOR: And their main issue right here is trying to get the fire
out so they can cool down some of these adjacent cars and move them off the
freeway.

You know, we are concentrating on the I-15, but we want to mention
that this fire has spread, as Chuck said. It`s up to 2,000 acres, the
foothills of Baldy Mesa. Structures have burned there.

The mandatory evacuations going on in the Baldy Mesa area. Let me
just give you the locations on that. East of sheep creek road, north of
the I-15, west of the I-15, south of Felan Road. So, that`s the area they
are concentrating on. We understand structures have burned there and there
are mandatory evacuations.

KORNACKI: We are going to pull out of the coverage from KNBC.

Again, looking at that wildfire that`s jumped on to Interstate 15 in
southern California. We are going back to NBC`s Hallie Jackson, who is
live for us in Los Angeles.

Hallie, what`s the latest you can tell us?

JACKSON: Quick wrap here, Steve.

We know that wind gusts right now in that area are 35 to 40 miles an
hour. No confirmed number of burn victims, but there are some patients
being treated for that and for smoke inhalation. Approximately, 15 cars
have burned. And we`re learning now from fire officials, 2,000 acres
burning from the north fire, this wildfire that is out by the Cajon Pass.
That is up from 500, Steve, when you and I started talking less than a half
hour ago.

We are going to keep an eye on this. You see the tankers flying. We
know that there are choppers doing water drops, as well as there for
medical evacuation. We are going to keep an eye on this.

Back to you.

KORNACKI: OK. Yes, as we heard from our affiliates coverage out
there. Obviously, it`s a dangerous situation on the ground. We have been
watching these water drops from these helicopters. A dangerous situation
for them, trying to navigate the high winds we`ve been talking about,
trying to navigate those clouds of smoke, the black smoke and in between
all of that, trying to drop water on to the very, sort of specific, almost
pinpoints of fire along Interstate 15.

Again, this fire we have been told now has spread to 2,000 acres, a
wildfire that jumped on the interstate. This is outside of Los Angeles and
southern California. It is now 5:00 on, almost 5:00 on the West Coast.

So, we are basically talking rush hour here in one of the most heavily
congested parts of the country, southern California. All these cars on the
road and again, we have been watching these situation for the last half
hour.

And again, we can just -- I just want to see what that`s showing
there. We actually have reached the end of our hour of coverage on
HARDBALL. That`s going to wrap up things up for us right now.

Chris Matthews is going to be back on this seat on Monday. But our
coverage of all that`s happening in Southern California will continue right
now on "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES."


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