Fires continue to spread in Southern California

High winds fed the firestorms that have destroyed more than 1500 homes and businesses in Southern California by Tuesday, Oct 23 the third day of its onslaught, and more than 346,000 people in San Diego County have had to evacuate their homes according to the San Diego county sheriff's officials.

Fire officals are saying that containment of major blazes is days away.

President Bush declared a federal emergency for seven Southern California counties, a move that will speed disaster-relief efforts. He also sent federal disaster officials to California. He did not plan to visit the area himself, fearing his visit would detract from firefighting efforts.

"All of us across this nation are concerned for the families who have lost their homes and the many families who have been evacuated from their homes," Bush said Tuesday. "We send the help of the federal government."

Some disaster relief organizations are looking for volunteers to help serve the growing ranks of evacuees at emergency shelters.

"People can donate their time," said Myra Jolivet, chief marketing officer for the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles. "We always need help with servicing the needs of people who have been displaced."

American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles — Volunteers can call the Red Cross at (310) 445-2676 or (310) 477-5785.

Salvation Army's divisional headquarters in San Diego, which covers San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties — Volunteers can call (619) 231-6000 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.