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Oklahoma Fire Spreading; Eastwood Endorses Romney
Aired August 4, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rob Marciano in today for Fredricka Whitfield.
And one of the nation's worst wildfire seasons on record, it is now Oklahoma's turn. Wind, whip, wades are fires are spreading across more than a dozen counties fueled by extreme drought conditions and temperatures reaching 113 degrees. More than 60 buildings have already been burned and fire threatens more than a hundred homes across several communities right now.
I have Christopher Carlson on the phone right now. He and his children had to make a run from noble, Oklahoma. And you're safe in Norman now I'm told, Christopher. Tell us about your harrowing experience.
CHRISTOPHER CARLSON, OKLAHOMA RESIDENT (via phone): Well, yes, Rob. I am safe. My family is safe at the moment. Thank God. We were watching the north fire. There was a major wildfire north of my house. It started out there and it was going north. So, I wasn't too concern with that. About an hour later, my wife called and told me there's a major --
CHRISTOPHER CARLSON: ... We were watching the north fire. There was a major wildfire north of my house. It started out there and it was going north so I wasn't too concerned with that. About an hour later, my wife called me and told me there is a major fire north of us, which I already knew. I went out to look at that and I noticed there was smoke and embers blowing from the south across my vision. I'm like, OK. What's going on there? So I went to the back of the house and went out the back porch and walked into literally a forest fire in my back yard. The entire neighborhood behind me was engulfed and all the forest around me was on fire right up to my porch where I was standing.
ANCHOR: So what went through your head and what did you do next?
CARLSON: Well, the very first thing that went through my head was to get my step son out of the house. I have two step sons. Only one was there at the time. His name is Gabriel. He's 12 years old. Very brave boy. I got him in the truck. I said get your shoes on. We got to go right now. So I took him down the road to go check on another neighbor friend of mine and they said they were all right. They were in the process of leaving. So when I was ready to go I decided to, look, son, I have to stay here and try to help the neighbors to get them away and get them notified of the fires and to help save my house. He understood that so I got him in a safe zone and I ran back up to my neighborhood and some neighbors helped me shovel dirt and stuff around my trailer because I had no water, no water lines out there, and no fire hydrants of course. We're too far out.
And I managed to get a call to 911 out as my air conditioner was burning, my porch was burning, and all the trees around me were engulfed. But it was jumping across to the neighbor's properties and their vehicles and at that time I decided to forsake my trailer and started knocking on my neighbors' trailers again to make sure they were aware of this. Fortunately, nobody was home. But there were a few up the hill that were fortunate enough to have water lines and they were watering their properties. I asked a man if I could borrow one of his hoses to put on my washer hook up inside the house to get the hose outside to save my house.
MARCIANO: Christopher, how much is left of your house?
CARLSON: About 3/4 of it made it. It's the south end where the fire come from that came up the hill and through the ravine and got my master bedroom, master bathroom, master closets. And most of the ceiling.
MARCIANO: We're sorry to hear about your house.
CARLSON: The whole property is completely destroyed and everybody's around it.
MARCIANO: Now, I'm told, Christopher, more importantly that you suffered some smoke inhalation, had to go to the hospital. I hear you huffing and puffing right now.
CARLSON: am. Yes, sir. I'm struggling to breathe. But I'm breathing better than I was yesterday in the back of the ambulance thank god. I have some minor burns on me from the shovel and the heat and from the embers burning me while I was standing out there in shorts and flip-flops trying to fight this fire to save my house and the neighbors.
And they took me to the hospital, 911, I was in complete respiratory failure because I have asthma as well. But I couldn't leave the area. I had to help my neighbors. That's the way we do it in Oklahoma. We help each other because we are prone to tornadoes and disasters and fires.
MARCIANO: Certainly take care of yourself.
CARLSON: Just glad they're safe and we didn't lose anybody around that area. I know there were people a lot worse off than we were. Those are the ones that really need the help, you know, we come together as Oklahomans for that reason. My wife is the real hero. Because this morning at the hotel she woke me up and said we need to go out and check on our house. So we went out there and this is where she alerted me to the fire that was going up in the ceiling in the back bedroom.
So she is the one that really found the fire that damaged our master bedroom and that corner of the house because I put the fire out yesterday and the fire department did too when they showed up. They were fighting a big north fire, the really big one. This south fire they weren't even aware of until I called them about it. They had no idea.
MARCIANO: Well, they've got their hands full, Christopher. Boy, you've had an experience to tell for years to come. Our hearts go out to you.
CARLSON: 115 degrees out here every day. It's killing us. We need rain.
MARCIANO: I hear you. I hear you.
CARLSON: Haven't had rain in two months.
MARCIANO: I know. You're not the only ones suffering there but certainly the worst right now from the fire. We can hear it in your voice and your lungs the smoke. Our hearts go out to you for your loss in your home. Take care of yourself and thankfully you and your family are for the most part OK. Christopher Carlson, victim of the Noble fire there in Oklahoma joining us live on the phone. Thank you, Christopher.
Oklahoma is not the only victim. It's just the latest one of this hot, dry year. It has plenty of company. Here's a look at the drought monitor map. Let's check it out closely. The version of the map updated just a couple of days ago. Right now more than half of all U.S. counties in the lower 48 have been designated disaster zones. Last hour I talked with Ernie Goss. He just finished a new study that shows how the drought is dragging down the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNIE GOSS, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY: What we tracked in our two surveys for the month of July is it's spilling over to other industries because obviously when consumers have less money, spend more on food, they have less money to spend on other factors. We haven't seen all of that yet. We'll see it in the months ahead and, in fact, the next - coming in the latter part of 2012 and into 2013.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Estimates for crop losses from the drought to top $20 billion this year. If we could only get some of the rainfall from these tropical systems up there. It's going to be a hard task to do. We got two tropical storms right now in the Atlantic, one is in the Caribbean, the greatest threat there, tropical storm Ernesto, 50-mile- an-hour wind. It's moving quickly to the west 18 miles an hour. It will miss the Dominican Republic but Jamaica in its sights.
Tropical storm warnings up there. Here is the forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Slow strengthening expected and a trajectory that should bring it close to if not into the Gulf of Mexico by the middle or end of next week. Also on the radar and satellite is Florence out there well into the Atlantic just off the coast of Africa. Quite honestly not too terribly worried about Florence at the moment. We'll keep you posted. Fresh updates coming at the top of the hour.
Now to the investigation at the Aurora movie theater massacre. The University of Colorado has hired a former federal prosecutor to internally review how the school dealt with suspected gunman, James Holmes. Holmes was a neuro science student there. "The Denver Post" reported a psychiatrist who was treating Holmes notified the school's threat assessment team about his behavior before the rampage happened. Holmes is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder for the shootings at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." Twelve people were killed and 58 others wounded.
Joe Paterno's family plans to appeal the NCAA sanctions against Penn State. It hit the school with a $60 million fine along with the loss of 14 seasons worth of wins under the late legendary coach. The action resulted from the conviction of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on child sexual abuse charges. But there is a problem for the family. The NCAA says its sanctions are not subject to appeal.
Well, believe it or not there is more to the summer Olympics than just sports. Many countries set up hospitality houses to entertain athletes, V.I.P.s, and, yes, even fans. We'll take a little tour coming up.
MARCIANO: The legal folks are here. One of the cases we're looking at, gator feeding. Holly give me a line.
HOLLY: Hey, he got what he paid for. He enticed an alligator and he paid with his hand.
AVERY FRIEDMAN: Hey Rob, look what happened to Captain Hook. Is the law going to put this guy in jail? We'll have the answers for you and more coming up.
MARCIANO: I knew you'd bring up a pirate. Back with the legal guys after this.
MARCIANO: They are calling it Super Saturday at the Olympics with 25 gold medals on the line. American Serena Williams now owns one of those. She beat Russian Maria Sharapova for the women's singles tennis title and she hardly broke a sweat doing it, 6-0, 6-1 was the final score.
And Michael Phelps swam his last race today the 4 x 100 meter relay, Team USA won. It is his fourth gold medal of these games and 18th gold medal overall. The U.S. also racked up a gold in women's five- meter rifle marksmanship.
You know, for folks visiting London right now it isn't really all about watching the actual Olympic event. You can spend time checking out one of the houses that's set up by visiting countries who are sparing no expense to give athletes a refuge and to show off a little bit, too. Our Erin McLaughlin takes a tour.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's food, fashion, history, and art. The Dutch have set up a party house in a centuries old palace and the Germans, well, they literally cruised on it. For some countries it's a chance to let Olympic athletes and V.I.P.s mingle amidst the comforts of home.
(on camera): welcome to USA House. At any given moment you could have our legend Olympians in the space. You can have an actual competing athlete in the space or their families.
Not everybody gets to come here.
LISA RELIFORD, DIRECTOR, MEETING AND EVENT SERVICES: Well, this is meant as a refuge for our Olympians and their family members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just here to have a good time, get my mind off my races that I have coming up.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): For countries like Russia the National Hospitality House is open to the public, a chance to attract tourists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have shows, traditional Russian shows, and it includes songs, dances, and also we have, for example, kid zone and also have traditional Russian food in the cafe here.
MCLAUGHLIN: A place to celebrate the Olympics and to boost national pride, a little bit of home away from home.
Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.
MARCIANO: Well, a man loses his hand to an alligator, but if that's not enough, he is getting charged for feeding it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Adding insult to injury for the most part. The guy already got his arm taken off. What more would you want?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Our legal guys will weigh in.
But first, how many times have you been doing something and had an a- ha moment? Tomorrow on "The Next List," Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiles Ben Coffman. He has been helping people bring their ideas to life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The business is to make an invention accessible, all right, to make it all possible for all people to execute on their great ideas regardless of their luck, their circumstance, their pedigree, to give everyone a chance.
We give these people an opportunity to literally see their ideas up to their full potential. Sometimes their full potential is a week later when we tell them their idea isn't good. Sometimes their full potential is five years from now with a million dollars in their bank account. We just want to make sure that we're giving it as good of a run as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Tune in tomorrow to watch "The Next List" or set your DVR for 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
MARCIANO: In Florida it's an air boat tour one family will never forget and their captain that's for sure he won't forget it either. The captain lost his hand after a nine-foot gator bit it off. And now he faces charges for reportedly feeding it.
Our legal folks are back. Avery Friedman, Los Angeles, Holly Hughes in Atlanta. I mean talk about insult to injury, guys, 63-year-old (INAUDIBLE) captain, been doing this a while. He's feeding an alligator and the reptile then bites off his hand. Now they are charging this guy with a crime. Avery, what is the legal punishment for giving your hand to an alligator?
FRIEDMAN: Well, that isn't what it is, Rob. I mean, the law is enticing an alligator which is unique to the everglades. He worked for Captain Doug. His name is Wallace. They're going to give him a nickname. It won't be lefty, I tell you that. I mean, the difficulty here is not only did he suffer the loss of his hand. He is going to be facing 60 days in jail, $500 fine because he enticed an alligator.
So whether you work for Captain Doug or Captain Hook I think the good idea is not to entice alligators because this is what happens. He is facing a crime even though he suffered this terrible, terrible injury.
MARCIANO: Holly, is this fair? I suspect there is a big problem with this in Florida, people feeding gators. Is this a fair law? Why wouldn't the judge give him a break here?
HUGHES: It is fair. The judge might give him a break. But you've heard the expression be careful what you do because it might just come back to bite you. Well, this case is a visual aid for that, Rob. It's what we call public policy law. The law is on the books to protect people, to keep people from trying to feed alligators and things like this happening, losing their hands. It's also to protect the wildlife and the animals because if they get too used to humans feeding them they lose their fear of humans.
And you do have these terrible incidents happening. So the reason that the law is on the books is to protect the public and to keep other people - it's a deterrence law, a public policy. Keep other people from doing it. Now, even though what Avery talked about is true, he is facing up to 60 days in jail. The judge could just say to him "I'll give you probation, I'll give you one day in jail." The judge can do anything within that range, and given what this man has already suffered I don't think the judge is going to throw the book at him.
MARCIANO: So let's see how compassionate both of you are. Holly, if you were the prosecutor would you press charges in this case?
HUGHES: I would press the charges but I would give him probation.
MARCIANO: And, Avery, what would you do, drop the hammer?
FRIEDMAN: No. I would press charges, make him pay a fine. He's suffered enough.
MARCIANO: OK. And quickly, claims against his employer, how is that involved? Avery?
FRIEDMAN: Not a chance.
FRIEDMAN: Not a chance unless the employer forced him to do it which I don't think he would.
FRIEDMAN: But if he did maybe there is a worker's comp case but that's about as good as it gets.
MARCIANO: Yes and I suppose if you're one of these guys you want to give your passengers, you know, a bit of a thrill. This one certainly goes down in the history books potentially. Let's switch gears, guys.
HUGHES: For nightmares, Rob.
MARCIANO: Yeah. For sure. If there were small children on the boat they certainly have an image that may be burned in their minds forever.
MARCIANO: Speaking of children or at least students let's switch gears a little bit. All right.
There is a student, you know, seemingly a star student. I mean we're talking about stellar track record here. Never, allegedly never missed a class or reportedly never missed a class but now has a C plus because he missed a class being at a hearing, an adoption hearing, basically family court, and he missed school that day so the teacher is penalizing him. So he and his parents are now suing the teacher and the school system I would think.
Avery, what do you have to say about this case?
FRIEDMAN: You know something, Rob? You have a better chance of winning a gold medal in kayaking than this kid has in the federal district court.
MARCIANO: That's a low blow.
FRIEDMAN: Sorry about that, pal. We saw what happened to you. But the bottom line is, for some reason, I studied the complaint. The lawyer brought it in federal district court claiming a civil rights case under the due process laws. It does not exist. Unfortunately, I think this young man suffered injustice. We've all had teachers like this. It belongs in the state court. My prediction the federal court will dismiss it. It'll be in superior court up in Alameda County a little bit north of here and the matter will resolve.
MARCIANO: What do you think, Holly?
HUGHES: Yes. I'm with Avery on this one. But I think the matter will resolve only because it's getting so much press and the difference here is they promised this young man that he would be able to make up the test that he missed. That's what caused his grade to plummet so drastically. So there was a promise. There was sort of this oral contract where they said to him, "Hey, look, if you go to the adoption hearing don't worry. We're going to let you make it up." So I think that eventually he may get something out of this.
When you talk about lawsuits you talk about are there damages? And here you're talking about what kind of college he gets into, future earnings. We see it in catastrophic injury cases where they bring on a forensic accountant to say, "Well, you're no longer able to earn this much and this is the damage." So we might see something worked out quietly by the school district saying we understand, it could affect you, where you get into school. What kind of job you get and how much money you'll be able to make. But I don't think it will sustain in federal court.
MARCIANO: Avery, you want to jump in?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. No provision for damages in the statute but I think the school district is smart. Get it worked out. You want to help kids, you want to move them on their way, he was a junior when this happened. Bottom line let's see him get into UCLA. Go, bruins.
MARCIANO: All right. Guys, I want to point out that we did teach out for the attorney for Albany Unified but have not heard back from them as of this newscast. Hey guys, thanks very much. Enjoy it. Holly, Avery?
HUGHES: Thanks, Rob.
MARCIANO: Well don't forget you can watch the legal guys every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
On his run for the White House presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney picks up a big name endorsement. We'll show you who's the guy, one of his new supporters, coming up.
MARCIANO: Now to the race for the White House and the efforts for more campaign cash. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is attending a fundraiser today in Indiana and he picked up a big name endorsement at another fundraiser last night. Actor Clint Eastwood. You feel lucky? Huh? Do you? Eastwood joked with reporters as he headed into last night's fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you decide to endorse the governor?
CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: I haven't endorsed the governor. Oh, yes. No. I just - because I think the country needs a boost somewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Eastwood told the crowd at the fundraiser that Romney was going to restore a "decent tax system."
Today is President Obama's 51st birthday. He is spending the day at Camp David. He'll hold a more official celebration in Chicago next weekend. The president returns to the campaign trail on Monday with two stops in Connecticut.
Well, it's the size of an SUV, weighs nearly a ton, and will soon be barreling toward Mars at 13,000 miles an hour. A preview of the unprecedented rover mission coming up.
MARCIANO: Checking top stories. In Oklahoma, wind fueled wild fires have already claimed more than 60 buildings and threatened another hundred homes right now. Temperatures in Oklahoma today could reach 113 degrees again in some areas. Officials suspect a fire near Luther was started by an arsonist. That fire burned dozens of homes and forced evacuations.
And in just about 36 hours NASA will attempt one of its most difficult missions to date landing its "curiosity" rover on the surface of mars. If "Curiosity" makes it through the harrowing descent and landing it will begin to hunt for the building blocks of life. You can watch that historic landing live right here on CNN Monday morning early or late at 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
Well, that'll do it for me. The CNN "Newsroom" continues at the top of the hour with Don Lemon. But first, catching Olympic cheaters. How some athletes are gaming the system. "SANJAY GUPTA M.D." starts right now.