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California Fires Update

Churches and Christian groups continue to assist with relief efforts.

Finally, after four days of spreading wildfires, the situation in Southern California is improving. The Santa Ana winds that made the fires especially volatile have subsided, and firefighters are regaining control of the blazes. Taking stock of the damage this morning, the Los Angeles Times reports that 1,609 homes have been destroyed and 695 square miles scorched. The destruction is expected to cost insurance companies around $1 billion - a pittance compared to the staggering $41.1 billion insurers paid out for Katrina, but still a significant natural disaster.

Or was it a natural disaster? Authorities suspect that at least two of the dozen or so large fires in Southern California were caused by arsonists. One suspect has been arrested on suspicion of arson; another was killed during a police chase.

Whatever the cause of the fires, one little-reported aspect of the story has been the response of churches and Christian organizations. Congregations throughout the area are assisting in relief ...

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