tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC August 17, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
they went to great homes. more on the weather forecast coming up. >> join us at 5:00. lester holt is next. >> bye-bye. developing news tonight. deploying the military. active-duty troops mobilized as nearly 100 major infernos burn homes to the ground, blazing through half a dozen states. money running dangerously low to fight them. mystery bomb blast caught on camera. a deadly attack near a luxury hotel popular with western tourists. who planted that bomb? trump's plan. the billionaire front-runner at court today amid new fallout from our nbc news interview. could he really deport over 10 million undocumented immigrants? how much would it cost? and the amazon uproar. allegations of bruising work conditions, questions piling up from customers. now the company is firing back. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news with lester holt." good evening. we begin with a remarkable number. right now, around 95 wildfires are burning in the western u.s. and tonight, the u.s. military is answering an urgent call for help. at least 100 troops have been called up in washington state, the first deployment of active-duty soldiers to battle fires in nine years. the fires are burning across at least six states. the stakes are high, and so is the cost, $100 million a week. at that rate, officials say the money will run out next month. our team is deployed across the region. let's start in chelan, washington, with national correspondent miguel almaguer. miguel? >> reporter: hey, lester, good evening. heavy smoke hangs in the air here. behind me, there is destruction. in front of me, two miles ahead, a wildfire is moving in multiple directions. at least 56,000 acres here have been destroyed. more than 32 homes are gone.
this as that fire is on the move. it may be the most explosive inferno in the nation. what began as five small lightning fires merged into this mega monster. it looks like a war zone here because it is. in the air and on the ground, the national guard has arrived. but for now, they're losing the battle. >> it was heartbreaking. i'm getting phone calls from people saying can you see if my house is on fire? >> reporter: the chelan complex fire torching tens of thousands of acres, swallowing neighborhoods, destroying lives. john pulcifer took us by boat, the only way into the dream home he built 31 years ago. in hours, it was gone. >> all the neighbors pulled together. we all are determined that we will make it through. >> reporter: all that's left in this neighborhood, brick and ash. bruce burns raised three boys here. now, there's nothing left.
>> it's coming down in pure flames. so it's like a flamethrower coming through this. and it just took down every one of the structures. >> reporter: in washington state alone, nearly 3,000 forced to flee the flames. but not everyone escaped alive. lyle lost his father, who died of a heart attack as he scrambled to free. >> i loved him. he loved me. good man. >> reporter: across the west, nearly 100 uncontrolled wildfires are exploding out of control. they're not just dropping retardant from the air. the smoke jumpers are here now, too, parachuting directly into hot spots to battle the blaze. in chelan, this tourist-dependent community is in shambles. businesses and homes gone too. >> lived here 33 years. so it's hard to see this. >> reporter: tonight, lives in ruins as this fire rages on. miguel almaguer, nbc news, washington state.
>> reporter: this is joe fryer in simi valley, california. wildfires are tearing through miles of parched wilderness grassland and creeping dangerously close to neighborhoods. >> you can see the flames just about maybe 20 feet away from that one fence. >> reporter: a small brush fire in simi valley spread quickly friday, hundreds of homes in its path. >> started over there, and it just came like a whirlwind through. the only thing we had on our side was it was not windy that day. >> reporter: with a quick aerial attack and strike teams on the ground staying ahead of the flames, all the houses were spared. firefighters fear conditions are ripe for a perfect storm here. the ground is so dry, fires are moving unusually fast and the warm santa ana winds are still to come. >> if we get to the point where we have a santa ana-driven fire, we're going to be looking at some real scary conditions. >> reporter: right now, 13,000 firefighters are battling 19 major wildfires in california. so far this year, fires have burned more than 117,000 acres across the state.
the five-year average is just 53,000 acres. since july 1st, california has spent $133 million on firefighting. the state has called in the national guard and brought in crews from several other states. >> when we have a new start, especially with all these other fires going, cal fire reacts very aggressively while we launch over $2 million worth of their equipment to just a single report of a fire anywhere in the state. >> reporter: but resources are spread thin across the west. and for the first time in nearly a decade, the national interagency fire center is mobilizing active-duty military members to help fight fires up and down the coast. back here in simi valley, you can see lush green surrounding homes. all the homes here spared. yet just a few yards away, a totally different story. you can see charred black earth, nearly 200 acres gone. this is how close it got to homes, and this is why firefighters say that every minute counts when fighting
fires. lester? >> all right. joe fryer in california. thank you. one major factor fueling those unrelenting fires is, of course, the heat, and it is scorching right now from coast to coast. over 100 degrees throughout parts of the west and continuing into tomorrow. in the east, record temperatures, including the first official heat wave in the new york area in two years. overseas tonight, there is a growing mystery over a deadly bomb blast caught on camera on the normally safe streets of bangkok. an explosion at a site popular with western tourists right near a luxury hotel. investigators are swarming the scene, trying to figure out who planted it and why. nbc's bill neely has late details. [ sirens ] >> reporter: thailand has seen nothing like it, a massacre in the center of its capital, a bomb blast that's shaken a nation that was caught on camera. [ explosion ]
on another camera, the flash of the bomb, then people run in terror. the target was a shrine crowded with foreign tourists next to a five-star hotel. the bomb exploding at the height of rush hour. >> we saw around six bodies inside the perimeter of the shrine. and it was evident that there had been a powerful blast. >> there was fire and there was smoke. and people were lying and people were screaming. it was absolute chaos. >> reporter: no americans are reported among at least 19 dead and 120 injured. who did this and why is still a mystery. islamists in thailand have no history of an attack like this. the country's military rulers say the bomber's aim was to damage thailand's economy. but whoever did it wanted more than that. this was mass murder. and this site was the very center of political protests that rocked thailand five years ago and were brutally crushed. it's a shrine that normally attracts people seeking good luck.
there was none here today. only carnage. bill neely, nbc news, london. and there has been a horrific reminder that the war in syria continues without letup. a government air strike at a marketplace in rebel-held suburb of damascus killed at least 96 people and wounded hundreds more, making it one of the deadliest attacks of the entire war. the u.n. estimates the total of the war, now in its fifth year, at 250,000 lives lost. in indonesia, search teams have spotted the wreckage of an airliner that crashed into a mountain in bad weather. all 54 people aboard, including five children, are feared dead. the smoldering wreckage of a trigana air service turbo prop wa seen from the air this morning. officials say there was no distress call from the crew. also on the plane, nearly half a million dollars in cash, government aid for the poor. now to the race for president and republican front-runner donald trump holding on to the spotlight despite taking time out today for jury duty.
nbc news is the first to get details from trump himself about his plan to stop illegal immigration. and tonight we look at how it all adds up. here's nbc's katy tur with the details. >> reporter: from the campaign trail to the halls of justice, donald trump reporting for jury duty in manhattan in a limousine and waving to the crowds of mostly reporters, as if the nomination were all but his. >> i feel good. >> reporter: over the weekend, the candidate still leading in all the polls made a big splash at the iowa state fair. interviewed for "meet the press" and releasing his first policy paper on immigration, outlining how he would pay for his border wall. increasing visas on mexican border crossing permits, diplomat visas and worker visas, as well as impounding all remittance payments derived from illegal wages. trump's plan also calls for deporting all undocumented immigrants, which independent analysis says will cost anywhere from $117 billion to $200 billion. >> how are you going to fund
that on top of the wall? >> frankly, it's something we have to do. we either have a country or we don't. >> reporter: trump dodging that question today as his plan is getting mixed reaction from his republican opponents. >> no one thinks we should be building a fence as the solution to security. >> we need to do this. we need to secure the border. we need to fix the legal immigration system. >> reporter: meanwhile, republican arizona senator jeff flake, a member of the gang of eight, a bipartisan group of senators who tried to adopt comprehensive immigration reform, called trump's proposal laughable. >> let's face it. that just doesn't bear any relation to reality. and i think the republican party is much more serious than this. >> reporter: overshadowed today, bush's proposal on veterans' policy reforms. >> i am not intimidated -- >> reporter: but not overshadowed, scott walker, who has fought unions in wisconsin and who faced union protesters at the iowa state fair today. as for trump, he's excused. he wasn't selected for a jury today. also in that immigration plan of
his, we should mention a proposal to deny citizenship for babies born to undocumented immigrants here. but legal experts say that will be a violation of the 14th amendment. katy tur, nbc news, new york. there is sobering news tonight about the startling number of deaths on the nation's roads. the national safety council estimates the number of traffic fatalities jumped dramatically during the first six months of the year, putting the country on pace for its deadliest driving year in nearly a decade, with the potential for nearly 40,000 deaths. nbc's tom costello on what's being blamed for the sudden spike. >> reporter: across the country, a tragic few days on the nation's roads. in austin, texas, thursday four people dead, five kids hospitalized after a high-speed crash. outside phoenix sunday, two 28-year-olds were killed in a crash that also sent four children to area hospitals. and this morning in north carolina, a three-car crash, one dead, three injured.
tragically, the death toll this year is accelerating. the national safety council estimates that during the first six months of 2015, nearly 19,000 people died on the nation's roads, a 14% increase over last year. the number of injuries, up 30%. >> if we continue at this pace, we will surpass 40,000 fatalities this year. that is equal to the amount that we saw in 2007. >> reporter: soon after the great recession began with fewer people on the roads, but today, lower gas prices and the stronger economy mean road traffic has picked up again. meanwhile, researchers say cell phone distractions play a role in a quarter of all crashes, while speed is a factor 50% of the time. this afternoon, officer eddie kobian was running radar in montgomery county, maryland. >> stop. >> i see a lot of distracted driving, people on the phones, a lot of people that are not paying attention to their speed and they're going above the speed limit. just definitely keeps us busy. >> reporter: and nobody is immune.
in miami last week, serious injuries after an ambulance and fire truck collided while responding to an emergency. thankfully, no one was killed. this huge jump in accidents also brings with it a staggering cost, $152 billion just in the first six months. that's up 24% over a year ago. that's in death claims and injuries and property damage. experts say the lesson from all of this is to slow down, buckle up and put the cell phone away. lester? >> tom costello, thank you. a member of a navy parachute demonstration team is in stable condition following the accident that killed army sergeant corey hood at an air show in chicago on saturday. hood and the other man collided during a jump as onlookers watched on in horror. hood was taken to the hospital where he died yesterday. the navy has not released the name of the other man, who suffered a broken leg. still ahead tonight, inside amazon. controversy over employee allegations of harsh treatment at a company so many americans use every day.
but let's step back for a moment. is it really that intense? tonight, former employees give their side to our cynthia mcfadden. >> reporter: amazon may have one of just about everything on its massive shelves. this, one of its many fulfillment centers, the size of 28 football fields. the company has become the most highly valued retailer in the world, outranking walmart. but as other tech companies outdo each other with employee benefits, for example, netflix recently announced it would give a year-long parental leave to male and female employees, an article in sunday's "new york times" suggests amazon is taking a contrary direction. >> there is definitely a sense from people that we talk to that amazon does not really care about their personal lives. you can't reveal any weaknesses or you will be in trouble. >> reporter: even an amazon recruitment video acknowledges it isn't the work environment for everyone.
>> you love it or you don't. there is, you know, no middle ground really. >> reporter: the "times" recounts several alarming anecdotes from former employees. from one who said, "nearly every person i worked with, i saw cry at their desk, men included." to a woman who miscarried twins, but went on a business trip the next day. her boss, she says, told her, "i'm sorry, the work is still going to need to get done." and another woman who had thyroid cancer and was given a low performance rating after she returned from treatment. but today, nadia shouraboura told us in her nine years as an executive at amazon, that's not what she saw. >> when i read the article, it sounded absolutely horrible, but it just didn't resonate with the company i worked for for many years. >> reporter: in a cnbc documentary last year, john rossman and randy miller, former executives at amazon, said ceo jeff bezos does set a high bar.
>> he has a low tolerance for thinking small, acting small, or not being extremely sharp. >> or rationalizing. if you start giving rationalizations and excuses -- >> or pointing the other direction. >> he'll just -- he'll slash you to shreds. he's got a very effective, sarcastic bent. >> reporter: but that certainly wasn't the tone bezos took in an e-mail yesterday to his 150,000 employees, telling them he wouldn't want to work for the company described by the "times" and saying, "hopefully, you don't recognize the company described. hopefully, you're having fun with a bunch of brilliant teammates helping invent the future and laughing along the way." lester? >> all right, cynthia, thank you. we're back in a moment with news about your morning cup of coffee and the fight against cancer.
coffee a day had a lower rate of dying or having the cancer recur. it's the latest study to show the benefits of coffee and the first one to show it may help patients recover better. we put more information about this on our website. an accident has claimed the life of a man who became a real superhero to so many. lenny robinson achieved fame as the baltimore batman after a viral video in 2012 showed him pulled over in his lamborghini wearing a full batman costume. robinson was killed yesterday when another vehicle struck his while he was pulled over with car trouble. robinson used his fortune to cheer up young patients at hospitals as the caped crusader. and a big announcement from "saturday night live" today, revealing tracy morgan will return to host an episode in october. it's a major step forward as he recovers from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in a deadly highway crash in june of last year. morgan tweeted today, "stoked to be going home." when we come back, the woman so many are turning to when their best friends get sick and
but not all owners have the resources to keep our best friends healthy. and that's where one young woman is stepping in to make a difference. here's our rehema ellis. >> how are you doing, babe? >> reporter: derek mccain's dogs, rose and shiba, are more than just his pets. they're his family. >> my dogs mean everything to me. of course, i love them. i take care of them. >> how hard is it to get them to the vet? >> well, it's almost impossible. >> you know your mommy doesn't feel well, right? >> reporter: and when they get sick -- >> oh, shiba, baby. >> reporter: -- he didn't know what to do or how to pay, until he found kim wolf. >> let's go get better. >> reporter: she runs beyond breed, a non-profit organization that helps keep people and pets together in her brooklyn community. so you've identified the areas that have the greatest need. >> absolutely. >> reporter: an area with few resources. >> there are no veterinarians. it's very hard to find healthy pet food. and there's just a lot of ways that people have to work so much harder just to get the basic
things that they want to get for their pets. >> reporter: with determination, a bicycle, and lots of donated pet food and supplies, she reaches hundreds of her neighbors in need, connecting them with veterinarians. >> it's nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you, doc. >> reporter: derek's bill of nearly $1,000 to get shiba and rose well again was mostly covered by beyond breed. >> good girl. good boy. >> reporter: when she's not helping to care for them, kim takes pictures of people and their pets. >> we're not just dropping off pet food and leaving and that's the end of it. we're building relationships. >> reporter: believing no matter what the circumstances, everyone should be able to enjoy the special love of a pet. rehema ellis, nbc news, brooklyn, new york. >> what a great thing she's doing. that's going to do it for us on this monday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. \s wa of sees delypoceshtin. =oxea but it may show the