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California fires 'worse' than Fargo flood

California's wildfires are more frustrating the 1997 flood, says former Fargoan Geri Jure, now living in San Bernardino. During the flood, Jure -- then Geri Schwan -- was able to help friends sandbag and move belongings out of their basement. But...

California's wildfires are more frustrating the 1997 flood, says former Fargoan Geri Jure, now living in San Bernardino.

During the flood, Jure -- then Geri Schwan -- was able to help friends sandbag and move belongings out of their basement. But with wildfires claiming two lives and 350 homes in San Bernardino, Jure said she feels helpless.

"With the flood, you felt like you could do something to help and there was a sense of camaraderie," Jure said Monday. "Here, you just have to get out of the way."

Jure didn't have to evacuate from her home at the foot of Arrowhead Mountain, but people on both sides of her did.

Her brother-in-law, Curt Jure, who also lives in San Bernardino, lost his home to fires on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

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The fire seemed to "hopscotch" around homes, destroying his but leaving a trampoline in the yard untouched.

Curt Jure, a lawyer, was able to buy a house and move his family in on Monday, but others aren't so lucky, she said.

"Many people just don't have anything," Geri Jure said.

Concordia College alumna Carolyn Colbert, now of Encinitas, Calif., lives 12 miles from the closest fire.

The sky Monday looked like an all-day sunset because smoke in the air made the sun look red, Colbert said.

"It looks like a big ball of fire in the sky," she said.

Colbert, who works in high-tech sales, drove to work Monday to discover that businesses were closed. Residents were instructed to stay off freeways to keep them clear for firefighters, she said.

Steve Fear, Simi Valley, Calif., used sprinklers to prevent his roof and palm trees from catching on fire.

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Fear, formerly of Fargo, lives about a mile from the closest fire.

"We've got smoke coming from all directions," he said. "We're completely surrounded by fire and smoke."

Fear will try to go to work today, but may have to drive five hours out of his way because many freeways are closed, he said.

From his home, Fear watches helicopters retrieve water from golf course water hazards to dump on fires.

"All the hills are just charred black," he said. "You think it's done, then all of a sudden it flares back up again."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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