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Words in the News
Monday 27 October 2003
California fires
Forest fire Forest fires started in the US state of California on Tuesday and are still spreading. So far thousands of people have had to leave their homes. Robert Nisbet reports:
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Underneath the layer of thick smoke now covering all of southern California, thousands of firefighters are still struggling to contain ten separate blazes. Thirteen people are now known to have died, at least nine in the state's biggest fire in San Diego County.

Over a quarter of a million acres and six hundred and fifty homes have been destroyed in what the outgoing governor, Gray Davis, is calling the worst fires in California for a decade. He's asked President Bush to declare the area a disaster zone to free up federal funds. The fires have taken hold because of drought and an infestation of bark beetle, which has left millions of dead trees. Emergency services say it may take until Wednesday bring the fires under control.

Robert Nisbet, BBC, California
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very large fires
over quarter of a million acres
more than a hundred thousand hectares
outgoing governor
the political leader of California State, who is leaving his job soon.
disaster zone
area with serious problems, which receives immediate help from central government
free up federal funds
make available money from US central government
taken hold
a fire which has taken hold is very difficult to stop
a long period of time without rain
bark beetle
an insect which attacks trees
Emergency services
Fire fighters, police and ambulance are emergency services
bring the fires under control
stop the fires spreading
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