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Residents of burned park had little time

SYLMAR, Calif. — Hundreds of nails that once held together pastel-colored mobile homes now litter the gutters lining the curving streets.

Pipes still spurt water, looking for faucets that aren't there anymore. Toolboxes lay unused and unharmed, surrounded by a world of repairs to make.

Ceramic garden animals still smile in front yards, blackened with soot and surrounded by charred shrubs and trees.

And on Sunday, the day after a wildfire tore through and wreaked the devastation, police began going lot to lot with nine cadaver-sniffing dogs to search for any human remains in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in the Sylmar section of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.

The destruction was fast and total because the homes "were like matches, and they caught fire one after another," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday.

There were no reported missing people and no evidence of any fatalities at the 200-acre gated park, where 484 homes were destroyed out of more than 600, said Deputy Police Chief Michael Moore.

However, many of the residents were elderly and disabled, and the fire moved into the area very quickly — so quickly that firefighters dropped their hoses and left them to melt into the concrete.

That has urban search teams inspecting the properties very closely, said Fire Department Battalion Chief Edward Bushman. Searchers focused on homes with cars still in the driveway.

Occupants of more than 20 percent of homes had been accounted for through neighbors' reports to city officials.

Residents of burned park had little time 11/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:45pm]
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