Wildfire Blazes on Catalina Island

Southern California's Catalina Island was hit by wildfires last Thursday, forcing hurried evacuations of residents and visitors by ferry boats and helicopters. The fire has consumed 4,000 acres and has destroyed at least 10 buildings, including several homes. No injuries have been reported. As of Friday morning, 500 firefighters battled the blaze. The fire reached the edge of Avalon, the island's main town, but has since been contained. Avalon has a permanent population of 3,200 that grows to more than 10,000 on weekends and in the summer. Avalon, known for its Victorian architecture, is a popular destination for boaters from the mainland. Catalina Island covers 76 square miles and is served by helicopters and ferryboats from Los Angeles, Long Beach and other mainland harbors. On Friday, the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau was discouraging visitation to the island, noting that many businesses would be closed. The Catalina CVB also noted that cross-channel carriers were operating, but only transporting island residents, media and emergency personnel to the island. Those who want to leave the island will be transported back to the mainland. The fire continues to burn out of control in the interior of the island, but as long as the wind doesn't shift direction, the city of Avalon should be out of immediate danger.