California Wildfires: Death Reported; More Evacuations Ordered

May 16, 2014

Wildfires have burned more than 10,000 acres of brush land and caused at least one death in San Diego County. Evacuations have continued in areas such as San Marcos, where thousands were told to leave their homes Thursday.

Some evacuation orders have been lifted in other areas, as firefighters gain control, aided by easing conditions. But some residents are returning to find burned-out shells of their homes.

The first death with a potential connection to the fires was reported by member station KPBS Thursday, after firefighters found a badly burned body in a transient camp in Carlsbad, where the 400-acre Poinsettia fire has destroyed 18 apartments and either destroyed or badly damaged eight houses.

“Nearly 16,000 new evacuation orders were issued in San Marcos and nearby Escondido Thursday,” CBS News reports. “Over the last four days, officials have told 125,000 people to leave their homes. More than 2,500 firefighters are working across San Diego County aided by water-dropping aircraft.”

Hundreds of people are in shelters, and residents who are trying to go about their lives are forced to navigate around the fires, which have caused many roads and highways to close.

As San Diego County copes with the fires, police arrested two teenagers last night on suspected arson. Police say the pair “started at least two brush fires in San Diego’s Escondido area,” NBC 7 News reports. Investigators have not tied the pair to any other fires in the area.

Three large and still mostly uncontained fires have now burned more than 7,700 acres in the area, according to member station KPCC’s Fire Tracker. Another blaze, the Bernardo fire, is 75 percent contained after burning more than 1,500 acres, officials say.

The 6,000-acre Tomahawk fire “has grown past the containment line and is approaching the city of Fallbrook,” KPBS reported Thursday.

From San Diego, Tom Fudge of KPBS reports for our Newscast unit:

“San Diego old-timers say they’ve never seen such hot, dry winds in May. But those winds have been blowing for three days, and so far, 25 homes have been lost.

“Today, the most serious of several fires has been threatening the northern San Diego suburb of San Marcos. Cal Fire commander Tom Porter points out California’s drought has left a very dry landscape — ‘to the point where we have dead vegetation and fuels that are very volatile.’

“This weekend, the Santa Ana winds are expected to diminish and disappear.”

Before that promised relief arrives, San Diego will endure another day of high temperatures. The National Weather Service forecast calls for highs in the 90s for much of the county Friday.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

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