Nightly News   |  June 02, 2013

Calif. wildfire grows

A wildfire north of Los Angeles nearly quadrupled in size on Sunday, destroying homes and causing thousands to evacuate. NBC’s Diana Alvear reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to our other developing story we're following. what's now become a huge and destructive wildfire north of los angeles . nearly 1,000 firefighters are battling this blaze which has already consumed 20,000 acres. nbc's diana alviea is covering it for us.

>> reporter: good evening. i'm standing in the middle of what used to be someone's shed. this shows you the sheer intensity behind this powerhouse fire. many homes in this neighborhood have been reduced to rubble with the exception of the home behind me. saved by one brave man with a couple of hoses. within just a few hours, the massive powerhouse fire exploded, nearly quadrupling in size overnight, crippling the efforts of nearly a thousand firefighters to contain it.

>> the winds were very swirly and unpredictable out of several different directions changing quite frequently. it was hard to contain last night.

>> reporter: it is a round-the-clock effort battling the fire from the ground and in the air, unseasonably warm and dry conditions working against them. 2,000 people were forced to evacuate.

>> had a wood pile here.

>> reporter: but dennis imle was determined to save his home.

>> just a wall of flames. it went right over the house.

>> reporter: er says he had no time to be scared. he was too busy fending off towering flames with two hoses and fire gear he bought years ago as a precaution.

>> my lungs were on fire. i really got nervous.

>> reporter: after escaping the flames, he raced to extinguish his wood pile set pro careiously close to his propane tank. then put out hotspots at a nearby camp for seriously injured children. his home one of the few standing in his neighborhood helpless gents erratic fire.

>> i was thinking got to go! got to go!

>> reporter: sandra brown was forced to evacuate her home. she and her neighbors carried what they could to this red cross shelter.

>> we don't have fires this big, as a rule, this time of year.

>> reporter: in new mexico crews are working to contain two fires which have consumed nearly 9,000 acres prompting evacuation orders for hundreds. back in california, devastation so extreme, dennis ' wife feared the worst until he called.

>> i said it's me. that's all i said, it's me. she just started crying.

>> reporter: he survived, along with his home and what's left of his american flag . dennis tells me he plans to frame some of these stars to remind him of what he survived. but for firefighters, they have another long night ahead.