Wildfires have already turned parts of Southern California into a lunar landscape, even as a major hurricane is bearing down on Mexico's Baja Peninsula.
In Southern California, the fight to beat back the uncontrollable blazes is taking a physical and an emotional toll for those who barely had time to escape.
"I had to run, I was shaking, to get my daughter. I grabbed her from her sleep," evacuee Rachel Higgs said.
Others like Elizabeth Reichel are staying put trying to save their homes.
"We've been watering all day trying to sprinkle, they tell us, of course, it wouldn't do any good, but it makes us feel like we're doing something," said Reichel, a Juniper Hills resident.
And there are those who feared the worst about the fate of their personal effects.
"You could see this house in flames, you could see this house in flames, the whole neighborhood in flames but our one house, nothing happened. I can't explain it. I'm so happy that I have everything - my possessions, my pictures but to see my neighbors with nothing, it just breaks my heart," Auburn, Calif., resident Bill Meyers said.
The fires destroyed more than 50 homes, and they're threatening 12,000 others.
Also under siege -- a network of communications towers for local radio, TV, law enforcement - and even Los Angeles International Airport.
While many people have run for cover, others have ignored the mandatory evacuations.
"When you hear from law enforcement anything about evacuation, follow their orders, because there is so many that think they have to stay behind and protect their home but it always, sometimes they pay dearly for that," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.
Baja's Hurricane Jimena
Government officials in Mexico have the same concern with Hurricane Jimena. Authorities are trying to get thousands of people to evacuate before it hits land.
But many tourists and residents in nearby Cabo San Lucas so far have ignored the warning.
"We're staying at the Las Cascadas, it looks like it's pretty, you know, it's pretty solid, not a lot of loose things to blow around, everything is cement and concrete," tourist Jim Patterson said.
One woman said she's preparing.
"We're trying to think ahead and fill up the tank because the hurricane that's coming, which has us sort of worried because they're saying it's a Category 4."
The storm is roaring toward the Baja Peninsula with wind speeds near 155 mph, and it could make landfall by Tuesday evening.