Thursday, May 15, 2014

NPR: Wildfires Already in Full Swing in California

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 9:44 AM

click to enlarge A house is consumed by wildfire in San Marcos, Calif., on Wednesday, May 14. Thousands of homes have been evacuated since Wednesday. - BILL WECHTER, GETTY IMAGES, CNN
  • Bill Wechter, Getty Images, CNN
  • A house is consumed by wildfire in San Marcos, Calif., on Wednesday, May 14. Thousands of homes have been evacuated since Wednesday.


Nine wildfires burning on more than 14 square miles in California's San Diego County forced thousands to flee their homes Wednesday. National Public Radio reported closures of a college campus and Legoland California as well. No injuries have been reported.

Firefighters worked in temperatures near 100 degrees and gusting winds. The fire consumed brush and trees dried out by drought. When another blaze broke out Wednesday afternoon, around 21,000 evacuation notices were sent to residents and the California State University campus, where almost 10,000 students were evacuated. At least five structures were destroyed, but authorities aren't sure how man of them were homes.

In the coastal city of Carlsbad—30 miles north of San Diego—the Legoland amusement park had to close after the fire caused a power outage. Schools also closed and aren't expected to open until next week. Already the fire has consumed an eight-unit condominium complex and damaged eight homes and two businesses. Thousands were asked to evacuate their homes as well.

The city's fire chief said these fires were unprecedented in his 27-year firefighting career.

"This is May, this is unbelievable. This is something we should see in October," Chief Michael Davis said. "I haven't seen it this hot, this dry, this long in May."

Ten percent of the blaze was contained by early Wednesday evening.  Another fire scorched 6,000 acres on and around the Camp Pendleton Marine base, but evacuations were over by the evening there.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for San Diego County, freeing up special resources and funding for the fire fighting. Drought conditions in the state have made fire danger extremely high. 

The current fire season outlook, according to the Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), predicts significant fire activity will continue through May in California, southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and southern Alaska. By June, areas of concern will expand to northern California, Nevada and most of Oregon.

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