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Line of fire

By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor

This is being thumb-typed on my Blackberry as we drive through a residential neighborhood in San Diego. It smells like a fireplace. Everywhere. I've resorted to wearing a mask to breathe. The smoke is one thing, but the ash in the air is downright dangerous. This morning we encountered a woman who watched her home burn down on television. She appeared to be in shock -- not quite knowing what to feel. Other residents wait for an escort up the hill to their property, not knowing what they'll find when they round the final turn on the road nearing home.

The police are still patient (even detectives are working patrol shifts and helping watch neighborhoods), and in front of a nearby strip mall, in the blazing sun, there are 25 firefighters sound asleep on the grass wearing their full gear, getting a little rest while they can.

It's a sad, smoky and unsure place. I'm watching a fire on a hillside as I type this: white smoke (someone's put water on the fire) has now given way to black smoke (the fire has re-generated), and beneath it sits the lake where the choppers hover low to fill their tanks with water. We've got it all covered -- we're living in various rental cars, dividing up the territory -- and we'll have complete coverage for you on tonight's broadcast. Please join us.

For more information on the fires in Southern California:

State of California: http://www.ca.gov/CountyFireInfo.html

KNBC-TV, Los Angeles: http://www.knbc.com/index.html

KSND-TV, San Diego: http://www.knbc.com/index.html

msnbc.com: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21431682/

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/

San Diego Union-Tribune: http://www.signonsandiego.com/

Malibu Times: http://www.malibutimes.com/