October 26, 2007

Fires take tribal toll

Raging wildfires burning up southern California reservationsThe wildfires roaring across Southern California have burned more than 17,200 acres of land on the Yuina, Rincon, La Jolla, San Pasqual and Pala reservations, said Jim Fletcher, superintendent for the BIA in southern California.

Another 8,960 acres have burned on the Capitan Grande, Mesa Grande, Santa Ysabel, Barona, Jamul and Inaja-Cosmit reservations.

Fletcher has called a meeting with tribes and federal officials Oct. 30 to assess the damage and coordinate the relief effort.

"Mesa Grande is a poor tribe and La Jolla does not have gaming operations," he said. "Those folks need a lot of help."

Across San Diego County, gaming tribes are continuing to assist those whose reservations are being devastated by wildfires.

The fires have caused at least $1 billion in damage in San Diego County alone and have led to the largest evacuation in state history. At least 500,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, including thousands of tribal members.

More than 1,400 homes have been destroyed in the 18 fires raging in seven counties, according to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

At least 41 homes on the La Jolla reservation have burned along with 65 on the Rincon reservation and five on the Yuina reservation, Fletcher said. To the southeast, a fire swept through a 900-acre parcel where the Mesa Grande tribe keeps a herd of 45 bison.

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