updated 10/2/2005 9:24:30 PM ET 2005-10-03T01:24:30

MSNBC is asking readers to share their experiences the wildfires near Los Angeles.

Bravery, skill, and dedication
I live in Westlake Village, and we have been breathing smoke under an ominous sky for three days. We have been under voluntary evacuation, although bordering towns have been under mandatory evacuation. Most schools have been closed. Everything here is extremely organized, and the media keeps us well informed. We are constantly told the addresses of shelters, run and well-stocked by the Red Cross. The fire came to our town's northern boundary, and then a few miles to the east of us, but thank God, it missed us! Does everyone understand that the fire departments from the Los Angeles area have saved thousands and thousands of homes? This would have been a much worse disaster without their bravery, skill, and dedication.
--
Jane, Westlake Village, Calif.

Feeling the impact
I live in Chatsworth and work nearby. The fire is not that close to me, maybe 5-10 miles away at its closest point, and we don't need to evacuate, but I definitely feel its effects. It has been extremely smoky and there are ashes everywhere. Our entire house smells like smoke. Our cars are covered with ashes. The smoke has been so thick that it makes the sky look like dusk hours before it should, and the sun looks like a deep red ball. My eyes burn and my throat feels raw.
--Lynn Miclea, Chatsworth, Calif.

Ash and leaves flying through the sky
I was at Cal-State Northridge when the college closed its campus because of the air quality. Just before, as I left my apartment, ash and small bits of burnt leaves were flying down from the sky. Traffic has been crazy especially on the 101 and 118. But thank God for the firefighters and aircraft putting out these flames. They have done an amazing job!
--Candice Turner, Northridge, Calif.

A typical Calif. day?
I was on the beach at Malibu Thursday, from late afternoon to a bit after 7 p.m.. All afternoon the reddish brown cloud from the fires was streaming out towards the ocean, blown by the northeast wind. The air wasn't as smoky as I had expected it to be, but there were small particles of ash falling from the sky at the Malibu Starbucks. By 6 p.m., there was an eerie light at Malibu, almost like the strange light that precedes a major thunderstorm or squall line back east. The wind was quite strong and gusty from the land towards the sea, and the temperature of that wind was the highest I've ever felt at that time of night, for this area (have lived nearby in Santa Monica for nine years) … I remarked to a companion that this all seemed quite ominous indeed. We saw a large group of ducks wading and cavorting in the salt water surf and thought that was kind of unusual too. I hate to say it, but in California we call this "earthquake weather"!!!! Earlier in the afternoon we saw a dolphin just off the beach. All in all, a fairly typical California day?
--Jon Berg, Santa Monica, Calif.

Ash is like "snowflakes"
I live extremely near to the wildfire bordering Redlands/Moreno Valley. I can stand in my backyard and hear them dropping water on the fire but it is still raging, after buring for two days. The ash falling from the sky is like "snowflakes" - the putrid smell of burning wood that is sometimes infested with natural molds is very thick. Health advisories have been issued for people with breathing problems. What doesn't help all this is that the Santa Ana Winds have been blowing for two days, only fanning these wildfires. I live on the opposite side of the ridge from the fire in the Redlands/Moreno Valley area and although we have not been evacuated, it concerns me that something that intense is this close. Especially with high Santa Ana Winds, the flames travel quickly and intensely. Fortunately, I also live quite near an Air Force Base so I am certain they are keeping a watchful eye on it. It has been in the high 90's to 100's near the West Hills fires, in L.A., making it only more difficult for them to battle them. My heart goes out to all those people, in the Los Angeles suburbs, with million dollar homes that are facing the possibility of losing everything, by forced, immediate, evacuation.... God Bless America! God Bless the California Firefighters!  *EXEMPLARY DEDICATION & EXTREME GRATITUDE*
-- 'SoCaWhit'; Moreno Valley, California


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