Nightly News   |  August 09, 2013

On the frontlines of the fast-moving Silver Fire

The so-called “Silver Fire” in California comes on the heels of a historic fire season that has seen little rainfall. An aggressive blaze, the flames are threatening hundreds of homes. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> want to turn to southern california , where some veteran firefighters are calling this one of the fastest and most dangerous fires they've seen in years. the fire is burning near the town of banning, it's forced thousands from their homes, who can now only wait and pray. nbc's miguel almaguer is there right now. miguel , why is this fire proving to be so hard to tame?

>> lester, it's because the fire has been so erratic and so aggressive. even those choppers overhead haven't been able to beat back the flames. one of the reasons pushing the fire, there's been so little rain here. about half the normal rainfall. and when i say this fire has been erratic, take a look at the home in front of me, completely destroyed. meantime, the home behind me, a fuel feet away. still standing . the blaze has charred some 16,000 acres as firefighters work to beat bam the flames. today on the front lines , the back-breaking push to contain the silver fire . this is how wild land fires are fought. using little water, crews utilize backhoes and chainsaws to clear an eight-foot-wide fire break around the blaze.

>> we've got to get the ground troops on the ground to september fire from the fuel.

>> the ground war is critical, but shifting winds today forced some teams to pull back. a firestorm could suddenly blow in their direction this is what happens when the fire is whipped by winds. at least 26 homes destroyed. dave matthews lived here for ten years. in less than ten minutes, his house was gone.

>> the house across from me right next door to me, that was fully engulfed, there was nothing they could do when they got here.

>> still threatening, 539 homes, the relentless blaze burning in banning has moved at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

>> it signinged my hair is got so hot.

>> miles away from idyllewild where the wildfire skorjed 11,000 acres last month. with 100,000 acres charred across california this year, double the number for this time last year. crews are battling an historic and deadly fire season out west. back in banning, it's too late for this neighborhood leveled by flames. but amid all the destruction -- rebecca and her fiance discovered tonight, her home is still standing .

>> last time the esperanza, fire, our house made it and thank god, our this time it made it, too.

>> behind me, rebecca's home, no doubt she is one of the lucky ones . this fire is burning about a mile away. it is 25% contained. over the next several days, 1600 firefighters will be doing all they can working around the clock to fully contain this fire. lester?

>> miguel , thank you.