Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Flare-up in San Diego area fire triggers more evacuations; calmer winds, progress elsewhere

Firefighters take a break on a hillside after hours of work Thursday, May 15, 2014, in San Marcos, Calif. Gusty winds failed to return Thursday morning in San Diego County wildfire areas and authorities said it was a window of opportunity to make further gains against flames that burned homes and drove tens of thousands from their homes. (AP Photo)

Enlarge Image

Firefighters take a break on a hillside after hours of work Thursday, May 15, 2014, in San Marcos, Calif. Gusty winds failed to return Thursday morning in San Diego County wildfire areas and authorities said it was a window of opportunity to make further gains against flames that burned homes and drove tens of thousands from their homes. (AP Photo)

SAN MARCOS, Calif. - Calmer winds allowed firefighters to make progress on nine fires burning in the San Diego area as one of the most serious blazes suddenly roared Thursday afternoon burning close to homes, triggering thousands of new evacuation orders.

Growing flames raced along scrubby hillsides near the city of San Marcos as massive black plumes filled the afternoon skies after a half-day lull in winds that had allowed firefighters to gain ground against flames that have scorched thousands of acres this week.

Ash laden smoke limited visibility to a few feet at times in the inland suburban community. On one semi-rural street, five horses wandered nervously in a paddock as firefighters worked to protect nearby homes and barns.

Sheriff Bill Gore said the flare-up prompted more than 13,000 new evacuation notices in the San Marcos area and served as a "reminder to everybody just how volatile this can be." The new evacuations were in addition to more than 20,000 orders issued Wednesday. About 85,000 people live in San Marcos.

Since the first blaze erupted Tuesday during a heat wave, officials have repeatedly predicted the worst was over only to be confronted by a new challenge amid the hot, dry and windy conditions.

The fires have destroyed eight houses, an 18-unit condominium complex and two businesses and burned more than 15 square miles (39 square kilometres), causing more than $20 million in damage so far.

Firefighters found a badly burned body in a transient camp in Carlsbad, a north San Diego suburb that was one of the hardest hit areas by this week's fires. The city of Carlsbad said it had no information about the person who died — apparently the first fatality of the fires.

The flare-up in San Marcos ran up a slope in a heavily vegetated area but with no wind on it. The fire was being driven by fuel and topography, said Division Chief Dave Allen of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"It's created its own weather pattern there as it sucks oxygen in," he told a news conference.

State fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said the fire was running east along hillsides behind California State University San Marcos.

The fire, which broke out Wednesday, forced the evacuation of the university campus where nearly 10,000 students were in the middle of final exams. Graduation ceremonies were cancelled.

Investigators were trying to determine the causes of the various fires.

Asked about the possibility of arson, the sheriff said he wouldn't prejudge the investigations. He noted that sparks from vehicles can easily ignite brush in such dry conditions.

Emergency officials said a significant number of firefighting aircraft had become available, including four air tankers and 22 military helicopters, in addition to local agency helicopters.

Since the fires began, 125,000 evacuation notices have been sent, officials said. Schools also have been shut down and the Legoland amusement park had to close Wednesday. It reopened Thursday.

____

Watson reported from San Diego. Contributing to this report were AP photographer Lenny Ignelzi and videographer Raquel Maria Dillon in San Marcos, and AP writers Robert Jablon and John Antczak in Los Angeles.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media