Winfrey's California estate not damaged from raging wildfire

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A wildfire that's injured at least 13 people and destroyed 100 homes in the upscale Montecito community has not damaged Oprah's Winfrey's "Promised Land" -- the term she uses to describe her California estate.

"A lot of them are friends and neighbors of mine," Winfrey said today on her show. "Some of my friends left their homes with only their dogs last night."

Winfrey said her first concern if she were there would have been to get her dogs to safety.

"I don't have kids, so the most important thing for me is my dogs," Winfrey said. "And so we already had a plan for getting the dogs out and going to the Four Seasons in Westlake because they take dogs."

Winfrey spoke today with actor Rob Lowe, who had to evacuate his house.

"We just left with the kids," Lowe said. "We just got everybody out. This thing came on so fast, you just can't believe it."

===============

STATEMENT FROM HARPO:

During today's episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" aired live in Chicago, Oprah addressed the wildfire in Montecito, California. She opened the show by saying, "The first thing I wanted to talk about is the raging fire burning right now in my neighborhood of Montecito, California...This fire is about two miles from my house."

Oprah also mentioned her friends and neighbors, saying "All our prayers are with all the folks and neighbors in Santa Barbara. Hope you're well today. And those of you who lost your homes, our hearts go out to you."

Our statement remains:
"At this point, Oprah Winfrey's property has not been affected by the fire."
-Harpo spokesperson

===============


Transcript after the jump ...

TRANSCRIPT

DATE 11/14/08
PROGRAM "The Oprah Winfrey Show"

Interview: < Oprah Fridays Live: Melissa Etheridge Speaks Out; Linda Avey, Mark Consuelos, Melissa Etheridge, Gayle King, Rob Lowe, Tammy Lynn Michaels, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Scott Reiff, Anne Wojcicki >

HOST: Oprah Winfrey

OPRAH FRIDAYS LIVE: MELISSA ETHERIDGE SPEAKS OUT

[GRAPHICS: OPRAH]

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: All new, it's Friday live in Chicago.

PRODUCER, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Feed to key. Here we go, camera six. Standby. We're going to be live.

WINFREY: Next.

[GRAPHICS: OPRAH]

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

WINFREY: Hi, everybody. It's Friday. Thank you. Thank you. It's Friday. Which means from Chicago right now we're live with Mark and Gayle, Ali is on a shoot today for her Star series called "Head Case" so it's just the three of us. The first thing I want to talk about is the raging fire burning right now in my neighborhood of Montecito, California.

GAYLE KING: This really is your neighborhood.

WINFREY: This is my neighborhood. This fire's about two miles from my house. It started last night and so far it's been reported that as many as 100 homes have been destroyed. A lot of them are friends and neighbors of mine so it's not a good morning for us. As many as 5,400 people have been evacuated. Some of my friends left their homes with only their dogs last night as I was calling, "Are you all right? Are you all right?" They said, "We have the dogs and the kids aren't here so we're okay." Reporter and helicopter pilot, Scott Reiff, from our affiliate KABC is live right now over the scene and what are we looking at now? Scott?

SCOTT REIFF, KABC TV REPORTER: Oprah, basically what we are -- if can you hear me I'm getting your feed from the phone from the helicopter so it's a little difficult -- but what we are looking at is an area in Montecito right where it borders up to Santa Barbara, actually, off Barker Pass, if you're familiar with that area.

WINFREY: Yeah. Yeah.

Mr. REIFF: This is one of what they are telling us is maybe as many as 100 homes. I want to come out of this shot and show you what we are looking at. Now the godsend right now, really the godsend, there are no winds and with that they'll be able to save these homes. But as we sort of tilt up a little bit, Jamie my cameraman, and push into this area, you'll start to see it was selective. The fire came down through here when we had those heavy winds overnight, up to 70 miles an hour, destroying homes like this surrounding this entire area. It is really devastating. It is a sad thing. Most of these homes are nestled up into the hills along the Las Padres National Forest. There's a lot of brush around them. You know that's what makes this area so gorgeous. With that, though, these homes are almost impossible to defend when we have these high winds and the firefighters just really cannot do much. You see a car that was charred there in the driveway. When those winds kicked up the fire starting around 5:45 yesterday afternoon, I believe, it was just a matter of let's get everybody out of here. Let's save the people and do what we can do for the homes. But you can see it's devastation.

KING: Scott, have you heard anything about what started the fire?

Mr. REIFF: You know, I have no reports of that. The last report I heard that they did not know the cause. That was a report we heard about 40 minutes ago. That may have changed. Statistics-wise you are talking 2,500 acres.

KING: Wow.

Mr. REIFF: Ten people -- excuse me, 13 people were injured, ten with smoke inhalation, three with burns, but all of that minor so that is good news. No words yet on the cause of the fire. They are still looking into that.

WINFREY: And injuries? Did most people escape? Did everyone escape?

Mr. REIFF: Yes. It appears that everyone did. They did get in quickly. They did get everyone out. With the injury update I just gave you, those are actually people, I believe, that live here and not firefighters. So some were overtaken by smoke, but they did get everybody out. And you know this area, you know how we have these windy little roads and it's difficult to get out. That's another miracle almost that no one got trapped in their homes. There was really good preparation by the Santa Barbara fire department and the police department when this thing started to get everybody out immediately. They didn't waste any time. They did what they had to do and that's get everybody out and protect the public. If the house is burnt, god forbid, and that's what we are seeing, that's okay. At least no lives have been lost and no one that we know of has been injured.

WINFREY: Has it been contained? I heard it was moving towards Santa Barbara. Started up on Mountain Road and on Coal Spring Road and then was moving towards Santa Barbara. Has it been contained?

Mr. REIFF: Well, I wouldn't call it contained. Contained is a figure they use when they have the fire completely surrounded. But what I can tell you right now it's static. It is stalled and that's the best word you can hear when it comes to a fire. There is no wind. This fire's not going anywhere right now.

WINFREY: Okay.

Mr. REIFF: Structure protection is in place with more and more firefighters coming in. So it is stalled out right now. Tragically and sadly hundreds of people, you know, if not thousands, have their home damaged and lost their homes here. But right now we look good, but that can change in an instant if we get those heavy Santa Ana winds, the fire can be nearly impossible to stop in which case it will burn towards Santa Barbara.

KING: It's so interesting to look at the pictures, Scott, because what we are showing now there is a house that's destroyed and then you look at the house next door and it's totally intact.

MARK CONSUELOS: Like it bounced around.

KING: Yeah. It bounced all around, this fire.

WINFREY: Thank you, Scott, so much. Thank you so much. My neighbor, actor Rob Lowe, is joining us by phone. Morning, Rob.

ROB LOWE: Good morning, Oprah.

WINFREY: I'm here with Mark and Gayle. I heard -- actually, I called Ivan Reitman. That's how I got your number this morning. And Ivan said, "Call Rob, because Rob was riding around last night." Were you riding around, you know, scouting where the fire ...?

LOWE: I was watching the football game with my son and my wife called, it must have been right at 5:45, and said Montecito is on fire, get out. I thought she was kidding, because there was no indication there would be any problem whatsoever. But we got in the car, pulled out of the driveway and the entire mountain behind us was flames 200-feet high shooting into the air. At least where I was there were no sirens, there was no anything. There was no warning. It was just on. And because there were no sirens, I went to where the fire was because it was at our friend's, the Reitman's, house. It was literally at the back of the house. I saw them evacuate. The next door neighbor's house, they were trapped behind their gates and could not get out.

WINFREY: The next door neighbors the Simmons? You mean the Simmons?

LOWE: The Simmons could not get out of their gate. Their daughter was lost on the property and so I had another gentleman and I pried the gates open. He went up into the property to look for her. We tried to comfort the Simmons, and embers were raining down. They were in our hair, they were in our shirts. The wind was easily 70 miles an hour and it was absolutely Armageddon.

CONSUELOS: Did your house -- Rob, did your house make it?

LOWE: Yeah. I'm very lucky. My house is fine. Although I'm looking -- I'm talking to you right now and I'm looking out of my office and I can see the smoke billowing still. My house was fine and I believe both of my friends' houses survived. I believe. But it's still early here and there is so little information.

WINFREY: You know, I talked to Bellos's last night and they said that they had just had time to get out. I said, "What are you doing?" She said, they got their cat's ashes and left the house. Were you able to like take things or think of what you wanted to take? Or just left with your kids?

LOWE: We just left with the kids. We just got everybody out. The fire, I could always see it at some distance away. And to be honest it was so close to people who we know and love's homes, that's what I was thinking of. I mean really, really good friends, the story's the same. They had eight minutes to get out. This thing came on so fast you just can't believe it.

KING: Rob, if your wife hadn't called you, you really would have had no idea. It's so interesting to me that you guys are sitting at home watching the football game not smelling anything, not hearing anything? If Cheryl hadn't called you would have not known that this was going on.

WINFREY: Yeah. I called my house. And security said you couldn't -- the wind was moving in a different direction. I said, "How are the dogs?" because I heard the dogs went crazy with the smoke. He said, "No the wind is going in a different direction." So could you smell smoke?

KING: Is that what happened to you, Rob?

LOWE: That was exactly right. The wind was blowing. The reason that our homes survived, the wind was blowing exactly opposite to where we live. So you heard nothing, you saw nothing, and you smelled nothing. There were no sirens. This thing came on so fast I think it took -- I mean, the Santa Barbara people fire department and police obviously did a great job, because there were no injuries so far, thank god, but I am telling you this thing happened so fast you would have never have known it. I walked out and my jaw hit the floor.

CONSUELOS: For us in the east coast, you know, I live in new York, we see it, but we see this on the news, we hear about it. It seems like it's a way of life almost.

WINFREY: It's interesting, Rob, this has happened several times we have had fire up on the mountain, and people who live in California, you're right, live with this.

CONSUELOS: Right.

WINFREY: But when it's in your neighborhood you -- I say from now on I'll have so much more empathy and compassion for people who are going through it. When it's in your neighborhood, when it's your friends, when it's your house you feel differently about it. You see it differently.

KING: Yeah.

LOWE: And I lived out here since 1976 and seen a lot of fires, but last night, I mean, I watched 12, 13 homes burn to the ground. It's so tragic. It's so sad. And this is the worst I have ever seen by far.

KING: And it's such a helpless feeling, because there's nothing can you do but watch it.

WINFREY: I will say this -- I will say this, Rob. I'm glad that you and your family and all the other families are fine. And I will say when I spoke to Ivan Reitman last night and they were right across the street from where you were saying the fire was raging he said, "Listen, my house is insured. The things in my house are insured. My children were not at home. We got the dogs and my wife and we are doing okay." So that's the lesson for all of us. What really matters.

LOWE: Absolutely. A lot of people got very lucky and a lot of people not so lucky today, but I'm just thinking about all the people who are waking up to tragic losses today for sure.

WINFREY: Well, thank you for talking to us, Rob. Thanks so much.

LOWE: My pleasure. Take care.

WINFREY: Okay.

KING: What would you have done, Oprah, if you had been home? Because you could have been home. What would you have done? What would be the first thing you would have done?

CONSUELOS: Did you sleep last night?

WINFREY: I slept last night. I have people there at my house. Bob Greene's at my house and I said, "Wake me up if the winds change." He goes, "Well, if the winds change we are getting out. We are not calling you, first."

[LAUGHTER]

KING: What would you have done?

CONSUELOS: Yeah, what would you have done?

WINFREY: I would have -- for me I don't have kids so the most important thing for me was my dogs.

CONSUELOS: Yeah.

WINFREY: We already had a plan for getting the dogs out and going to the Four Seasons in West Lake, because they take dogs.

CONSUELOS: Right.

WINFREY: So that would have been the first thing I would have done, look for my dogs. I said to Bob -- Bob said, "What else?" I said, "Sophie's ashes," my little dog Sophie's ashes. Gayle said today, "How ironic you want to get Sophie's ashes, because if the house burned down they would be ashes."

[LAUGHTER]

KING: I mean I don't mean that, you know, as a joke, because those of us who love dogs know what that means. But there is some irony there that the one thing you would really want is something --

WINFREY: Ashes.

KING: Yeah.

WINFREY: Sophie's ashes.

CONSUELOS: I remember I was in L.A. once and there was some fires there.

WINFREY: I got to go.

CONSUELOS: You've got to go? Okay.

WINFREY: Coming up we're talk about Proposition 8...

KING: Live TV.

CONSUELOS: Live TV.

WINFREY: ...with Melissa Etheridge. We'll be right back.

[APPLAUSE]

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9 Comments

Oprah Winfrey is incredibly lucky, she Forrest Gumped her way to fame and fortune.

Very well put, Annie. How much did Oprah have to pay you to be such a brownnoser, Ty? The only "hard work" she does is sit on her fat @$$ all day and exploit other people's misfortunes and miseries to millions of viewers on TV. As far as her "generosity" is concerned, she's given cars away that were paid for by the car company, she didn't pay a dime out of her money for those cars. The Oprah houses were built with other people's donations with a big "Oprah House" plaque placed on the front of each house. She is an arrogant, self important, ego-maniacal, hypocrite! She along with her buddy Obama, used to attend Reverend Wright's racist Church (Wright is on record saying " No no no, not God Bless America, God DAMN America!)To all you idiots who voted Obama in, I hope you get what you deserve when he raises your taxes through the roof, forces you all to lose every last cent of your retirement money, and turns us into a socialist, totalitarian country. I also hope it doesn't adversely affect the people who were smart enough to vote against him.

Stop hating and get over McCain losing. That could be you and your house. Oprah's house wasn't destroyed.

Annie Hamilton, Oprah is one of the most humble and generous philanthropists of our time. And how ignorant and foolish of you to attribute our change (and vast improvement) in government; President-Elect Obama, solely to Oprah and her "friends". Clearly, the nation spoke & got what we wanted. Instead of spewing such apparent ignorance and envy, you should strive to be even a portion of what Oprah Winfrey is, in your own life. She worked hard for and deserves everything she has from her home to her wealth, company, and status. God Bless Oprah and shame on you "haters".

How many of these communities are there that can go up in flames at any time.
I have to say it would me feesible to erect large pipelines with huge sprayers,placed on huge tripods around the perimeter of these communities that could be pressured up and functional. Also sprayers on a smaller scale that would water down houses just short of soaking the community to stop these fires before they are able to burnout so many people.
Tillerb67@aol.com

Let her house burn. she forced her idiotic friends to back Obama and now we have a socialist government headed for a complete welfare state.

I don't pity Winfrey one bit - she needs to learn some humility.

idiot with a god complex.

Let her house burn. she forced her idiotic friends to back Obama and now we have a socialist government headed for a complete welfare state.

I don't pity Winfrey one bit - she needs to learn some humility.

idiot with a god complex.

Let her house burn. she forced her idiotic friends to back Obama and now we have a socialist government headed for a complete welfare state.

I don't pity Winfrey one bit - she needs to learn some humility.

idiot with a god complex.

Don't anyone worry about her dogs, they are being put up by the Four Seasons...

Brother, that's pretty pathetic.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Bieganski published on November 14, 2008 11:27 AM.

Oprah Winfrey: 'You're rockin', Sun-Times' was the previous entry in this blog.

Oprah Winfrey tell-all won't be hatchet job, but history indicates it'll include dirty details is the next entry in this blog.

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