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  California playgrounds 'covered in soot'
Updated 29 October 2003, 08.58
Soot and ash has filled the air
The massive fires sweeping the US state of California have closed 65 schools in the city of San Bernardino.

A total of 58,000 students were forced to stay at home on Monday and Tuesday as the blazes raged out of control.

Linda Hill from the San Bernardino School District told CBBC Newsround Online what the kids have been going through.

"It's very frightening. At night, the sky is aglow and the sidewalks and playgrounds are covered in ash and soot.

We've got one school without electricity and we've had to shut down the air conditioning in our schools because we don't want the polluted air getting in.

Lost homes

We've got teachers and pupils who have lost homes.

More than 200 staff live up in the mountain communities which have been evacuated.

An army of firemen are fighting the blazes
An army of firemen are fighting the blazes

We want to reopen the schools as soon as possible.

The children who have been forced out of their homes need to return to some kind of normal schedule.

Surrounded

It will be good for them to get back to school and be with their playmates.

The city is more or less surrounded by fires.

The nearest are in the north. They were two fires which merged into one huge fire.

There are also fires coming in 60 miles to the south of the city and 80 miles to the west.

Shock

A lot of people are still in shock. You hear of little fires here and there or even one big fire, but it's unusual to have so many major fires.

We don't know what's going to happen next - we're at the mercy of the wind."

Have you been affected by the forest fires, email us using the form below and tell your story.

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More InfoBORDER=0
PicturesCalifornia forest fires in pix
ChatTalk environment stuff
ClubI'm living near the fires in California

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Past StoriesBORDER=0
US fire kids offered counselling
Big fires still burning in the US
California fighting forest fires
8,000 flee Canadian forest fires
French forest fires kill four people
Homes destroyed in Arizona forest fires

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