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Fire Claims KNBC-TV Truck

A KNBC-TV microwave truck was destroyed by fire Tuesday afternoon after the truck stalled out and was overtaken by flames in the Sky Forest area of Lake Arrowhead in Southern California.

Anchor/reporter Chuck Henry and cameraman Christopher Li were pulled out of a blinding cloud of smoke by a firefighter, after the two exited the stalled van and were surprised to find they couldn’t see through the smoke.

When Henry and Li returned to the truck later, only a burned-out shell remained. Reporter Kyung Lah and photographer Joel Cooke were about 100 feet away from the truck and remained on the scene afterwards.

KNBC-TV, KABC-TV, KCBS-TV, KTTV-TV and KCAL-TV all interrupted their regular afternoon fare Tuesday to go to live coverage of the fires that extended through the access hours.

Wildfires continued to burn all around Southern California on Tuesday, with at least 17 people dead, more than 1,500 homes destroyed, and California facing more than $2 billion worth of damage.

Exiting Governor Gray Davis said the firestorms are possibly the worst natural disaster the state has ever faced.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.