Valdosta Daily Times

May 15, 2014

Wildfire burns homes in San Diego County


Associated Press

CARLSBAD, Calif. — At least a half-dozen wildfires scorched San Diego County on Wednesday, forcing thousands to flee burning homes and prompting the closures of a college campus and Legoland California. No major injuries were reported.  

Firefighters contended with temperatures approaching 100 degrees and gusty winds as they tried to contain flames fueled by brush and trees left brittle by drought.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries — one heat-related and one from smoke inhalation.

The worst of the fires was in the coastal city of Carlsbad, about 30 miles north of San Diego and home to Legoland. The park was closed because of a power outage caused by the fire.

The city’s schools also were closed, and officials expected they wouldn’t reopen until next week.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said the blaze consumed an eight-unit condominium complex, as well as damaged eight homes and two businesses. Thousands were asked to evacuate their homes.

As the flames surged, a steady stream of residents stopped at a roadblock on a four-lane thoroughfare as they tried to return home to collect valuables.

Richard Sanchez watched nervously as a plume of black smoke rose near his home. He had left his house an hour earlier in sandals to run an errand.

“All I want to do is get there and evacuate,” Sanchez said. “We have a plan, but I can’t execute it.”

As authorities yelled “Please evacuate!” in Joe Post’s neighborhood, he grabbed a garden hose and doused a palm tree in flames between his home and his neighbor’s. He debated about leaving his home, but he was worried what he might find upon returning.

“Work water, work!” he shouted, spraying down charred landscaping.

As the afternoon wore on, firefighters made progress in stopping the blaze’s spread, and 10 percent of it was contained by early evening.

But other areas in the county flared up.

Officials said many schools across the county would be closed Thursday, including San Diego Unified School District. A fire on the edge of San Diego in the community of Lakeside prompted more evacuations in the early evening Wednesday.