BRAND NEW ON E!
Oprah Winfrey may be in Chicago taping her show, but her thoughts are thousands of miles away, in Southern California.
The talk-show queen is among a handful of celebrities, including Rob Lowe, Michael Douglas, Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Costner and Jeff Bridges, whose homes are threatened by a fast-growing wildfire that broke out in exclusive Montecito, Calif., in the hills above Santa Barbara.
During today's episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show aired live in Chicago, Winfrey addressed the conflagration: "The first thing I wanted to talk about is the raging fire burning right now in my neighborhood of Montecito, Calif.
"All our prayers are with all the folks and neighbors in Santa Barbara. Hope you're well today. And those of you who lost your homes, our hearts go out to you."
Her rep told E! News that "at this point, Oprah Winfrey’s property has not been affected by the fire."
Calling in to The Oprah Winfrey Show, Lowe recounted evacuating his home. "We got in the car, pulled out of the driveway and the entire mountain behind us was flames, 200 feet high, shooting into the air...This thing came on so fast, you just can't believe it.
"I'm very lucky," he continued. "My house is fine. Although I'm looking—I'm talking to you right now and I'm looking out of my office and I can see the smoke billowing still...
"I've lived out here since 1976 and seen a lot of fires, but last night...I mean, I watched 12, 13 homes burn to the ground. It's so tragic. It's so sad. And this is the worst I have ever seen by far."
Both Lowe's and Winfrey's homes are less than a mile from several homes devastated in the blaze, and Winfrey's estate is within several hundred yards of the mandatory evacuation zone.
A dispatcher for the Montecito Fire Department told E! News the neighborhood around San Ysidro Road and East Valley Road, where Winfrey and Lowe live, has not yet been included in the mandatory evacuation area. While the area is "not in danger" right now, "anything is possible," the dispatcher said.
Officials are expecting up to 70 mph winds and zero humidity later today to stoke the fire further.
Flames broke out about 6 p.m. Thursday and have so far burned more than 200 structures and scorched 2,500 acres; 1,500 additional homes, including those of the aforementioned celebs, could be in trouble if firefighters can't get the blaze under control.
MIchael Douglas' rep told the Los Angeles Times that the actor's multimillion-dollar digs have so far avoided the inferno.
The ritzy area is a favorite for solitude-seeking celebrities. An average home sells for around $3 million.
—Additional reporting by Whitney English
(Originally published Nov. 14, 2008, at 9:35 a.m. PT.)