15,000 flee as new wildfire erupts in Southern California

SAN DIEGO Wed May 14, 2014 6:52pm EDT

1 of 8. Firefighters battle the so-called Poinsettia Fire as it turns and heads east towards another subdivision of homes in Carlsbad, California May 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

Related Topics

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - At least two structures burned to the ground and some 15,000 homes and businesses were told to evacuate on Wednesday as a wind-lashed wildfire roared out of control in the heart of a Southern California coastal community.

The blaze, which erupted shortly before 11 a.m. in Carlsbad, some 25 miles north of San Diego, quickly became the most pressing battle for crews fighting flames across the region amid soaring temperatures and hot Santa Ana winds.

"The safety and security of the community is our top priority, and all available resources are being deployed," the city of Carlsbad said in a statement on its website that confirmed the destruction of at least two structures.

The city did not say that those structures were homes, but local TV images showed houses in the Carlsbad area consumed by flames as thick black smoke filled the sky and drifted over the Pacific Ocean.

The fires flared as California entered the height of wildfire season in the midst of one of the state's worst droughts on record, setting the stage for what fire officials fear could be a particularly intense and dangerous year.

Some 15,0000 homes and businesses in and around Carlsbad received the directive to evacuate ahead of the flames, according to the city, and emergency shelters were set up at area schools and community centers.

The Legoland amusement park was also evacuated, spokeswoman Julie Estrada said, mostly because of power outages in the area. San Diego Gas and Electric reported that an estimated 2,000 residents in and around Carlsbad were without electricity.

"It's right in the middle of the city," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said of the so-called Poinsettia Fire, which had blackened more than 100 acres by mid-afternoon.

He said Cal Fire was assisting the Carlsbad Fire Department in fighting the flames and had deployed water-dropping aircraft over the community.

Meanwhile a second fire, called the Tomahawk, broke out on the Camp Pendleton Marine Base north of San Diego and had charred more than 100 acres by mid-afternoon, prompting evacuation of military housing and a naval weapons station.

The new fires erupted just hours after crews aided by diminished overnight winds, made substantial headway against the so-called Bernardo Fire, which had forced thousands to flee their homes in and around San Diego for several hours in the afternoon and evening on Tuesday.

By daybreak on Wednesday, firefighters managed to establish containment lines around 25 percent of the Bernardo Fire's perimeter, with all evacuation orders lifted and area schools reopened, according to fire officials.

Since erupting late on Tuesday morning, the Bernardo fire has scorched more than 1,500 acres, and officials said dangerous conditions persist.

"The Santa Ana winds are expected to continue through this evening and the high temperatures and strong, gusty winds are expected to elevate danger even higher than it has been," Berlant said.

(Reporting by Marty Graham, Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
MiltinSB wrote:
Instead of ’11,000 flee’ wouldn’t it be more accurate to say, ’11,000 are evacuated’? ‘Flee’ gives the impression that people are grabbing the kids and trying to outrace the flames. With rare exceptions California emergency personnel provide enough advance notice to enable an orderly exodus from an endangered neighborhood.

May 14, 2014 5:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
carlmartel wrote:
We had something similar two days ago in far north Texas and lost about 100 homes. Our drought has us with 35% of normal rain or 65% below normal. Temperatures are 5% to 15% above normal, so we should hit the 100s soon and stay there for 60 to 90 days. One problem of fighting fires in drought is the extra drain on water supplies. The US may lose 40% of fruits and vegetables to drought in California, a big chunk of beef from drought in Texas, and grain for cereal and bread from the movement of oil trains that keep grain shipments off the rails in the north central US. This will hurt chickens and pigs. US food prices will rise sharply this year.

May 14, 2014 5:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

Where do you want to go?

We look at when to take trips, budget considerations and the popularity of multigenerational family travel.   Video