President George W. Bush, visited San Diego and had an aerial view and tour of the damages caused by wild fires that have wrecked havoc across southern California, forcing more than 500,000 to flee their homes.

"California State was better prepared to act against fires as there is much more equipment available, more manpower available and quicker action," said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Santa Ana winds which helped to spread the fire have begun to diminish, giving fire fighters hope that the blazes could soon be under control.

The Bush administration has taken great care to show it is playing an active role in dealing with the fires, which have caused about $1bn damage in San Diego alone.

The president received plaudits from Gov. Schwarzenegger who praised him for immediately agreeing to sign a disaster declaration that provides financial aid to people whose losses are not covered by insurance.