Marketers Face Deadly, Windswept California Fires

Fires sweeping across southern California prompted Sony Electronics to close its San Diego headquarters before work began Monday morning. The 2,000 employees who report daily to the facility were alerted either by e-mail, voice mail, text message, or company hotline to stay home or find safe shelter.

As of noon, the fires had come within a couple hundred yards of the Sony Electronics compound in Rancho Bernardo. Personnel on site are monitoring events as they unfold, says John Dolak, Sony Electronics VP/corporate communications. "The Santa Ana winds are very unpredictable, and we are taking all precautions," he says.

Sony Vaio laptop computers are manufactured in a building on the 94-acre Rancho Bernardo campus. Although Blu-Ray DVD players and other electronic equipment are not made there, facilities at the location support corporate, sales and marketing.

Dolak hasn't had to evacuate from his home, which sits between the Harris fire to the south and Poway fire to the north. The fires have burned west and away from La Mesa, where he lives.

Callers to Petco, headquartered in San Diego, were greeted Monday with a voice message that said that "due to the magnitude of the fires in our community, our office is closed for the remainder of the day so that our associates whose homes are at risk can tend to the needs of their families."

A spokesperson for Thai Union International's Chicken of the Sea, also headquartered in San Diego, said the company had no news to report on Monday.

No one was available Monday at wireless communications company Qualcomm to comment. Qualcomm Stadium, home to the NFL San Diego Chargers, was being used as an evacuation center. The team is considering moving to Arizona to prepare for its next game.

Warm temperatures and strong Santa Ana winds created critical conditions during the weekend, filling the sky and air with black smoke and ashes up and down California's southern coast.

The Santa Ana winds can carry embers across a highway or over a building. In Malibu, west of Los Angeles, embers set fire to homes, along with cars and trees in the parking lot of a shopping center.--With Nina M. Lentini

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