Southern California is still ablaze. Thousands more are being ordered to leave their homes, and at least 270,000 people have been evacuated. The flames of a dozen fires have lapped 700 houses and left 384 square miles charred. Experts believe this might be just the beginning; the weather forecast predicts hotter temperatures and even windier conditions today.
As astronauts at Cape Canaveral prepare for a difficult shuttle mission in which they will haul bulky equipment up to the International Space Station, scattered showers threaten to delay the launch. The shuttle Discovery is scheduled to take off at 11:38 a.m. this morning. Along with the seven crew members, the shuttle will carry the original lightsaber used by Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars film.
Parrots are known to be masterful at mimicking sounds, and the ability of one Amazon parrot in Indiana to imitate a fire alarm may have saved his owner's life during a house fire. Peanut the parrot started chirping like a fire alarm after he heard a smoke detector go off nearby, signaling his owner, 33-year-old Shannon Conwell, and her 9-year-old son that their house was ablaze. The people and the parrot escaped the fire unharmed.