Wildfire Forces 20,000 Evacuations Near San Diego, California


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All because some idiot thought, "I don't feel like leaving my cigarette in the car, so I'll just toss it out the window and won't care where it lands."

@Jake Bunce, @digitalpoint, and whoever else lives there, please stay safe!

Wildfire Forces 20,000 Evacuations Near San Diego, California
  • Source: ABC News
  • Published: May 13, 2014

Wildfires pushed by gusty winds chewed through canyons parched by California's drought, prompting evacuation orders for more than 20,000 homes on the outskirts of San Diego and another 1,200 homes and businesses in Santa Barbara County 250 miles to the north.

No homes were reported damaged in either fire, but hundreds were considered threatened. The rugged terrain and unseasonably warm temperatures made firefighting even more difficult.

The flames that erupted in the fire-prone Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego quickly grew to 700 acres, driven by hot, dry Santa Ana winds that whipped through areas dotted by hilltop estates and pricey new housing tracts.

Black and gray smoke billowed over the area, filled with whirling ash and embers that created small spot fires. Flames crept within yards of some homes before firefighters doused them.

On one road, people on bicycles and skateboards stopped to watch as a plane dumped water on flames a half-mile away. At least two high schools and three elementary schools were evacuated.

Cameron Stout, filling his tank at a gas station, got a text from his wife shortly after noon saying that she was packing up and leaving with the family's pictures, laptops and other valuables. Their next-door neighbor's home burned in a fire 15 years ago, he said.

"This area's been through this before," he said. "I thought the recent rains would have prevented this from happening. But after a couple days of 100 degrees, it's reversed all that."

Katy Ghasemi, 14, was held for hours in her high school classroom before the school let the children go home. Students studied, ate lunch, did yoga and looked out the windows at the fire.

"There were a lot of flames. Some were right near the front gate," she said.

Chuck Dawson said firefighters saved his home.

"The heat is ferocious as you get close to it. In fact, it probably came within 25 feet of our house," he told KNSD-TV ( http://bit.ly/1nKiY94 ). "Luckily, we had about 30 firemen who barricaded it, and it burned all the way around, but we're safe."

Another fire in southern San Diego County destroyed a mobile home before it was extinguished.

Meanwhile, in the Santa Barbara County community of Lompoc, 1,200 homes and businesses were under an evacuation order from a fire that quickly grew to more than 500 acres.

There were downed power lines and heavy brush in the area, said David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

A half-dozen other blazes statewide all remained small, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Record high temperatures were predicted throughout much of California for the next two days. San Diego's high of 94 on Tuesday tied a 1979 record.

The combination of high heat, low relative humidity and Southern California's notoriously gusty Santa Ana winds prompted Los Angeles and neighboring cities to activate parking restrictions in certain areas to make sure emergency vehicles could get through if fires erupted in dry brush.

Months of drought have left much of the landscape ready to burn. Downtown Los Angeles has recorded just 6.08 inches of precipitation with little time left in the July 1-June 30 rain year. That's less than half its annual average rainfall.

"Fire season last year never really ended in Southern California," Berlant said. His agency has responded to more than 1,350 fires since Jan. 1, compared with an average of 700 by this time of year.

Jeremy P

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The city's alert system sent out an alert saying there was a "fire in your pants."

I can't deny it gave me a giggle but in all seriousness I hope everyone is safe :)


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I'm like in the middle of then all... New fire in San Marcos just started to the north of me.

The second picture is right when it started (I happened to be over there running errands).


OSS 117

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There's about a half of a billion dollars worth of real estate there in the area. From land to houses. After the last fires there not long ago, we sole whatever land and homes we had to a national bank for more than we bought. I can't speak for that specific area in Shawn's post, but one of the properties was a few miles away from SD fires from about 3 or 4 years ago. It happens every time we've had a rough and dry year in SoCal. You can either take a risk and not get burned as a home owner or investor.

For us it was a simple choice. Either get really lucky or lose the homes. Land can still be sold after a fire. In fact a fire is good for land richness. It burns impurities in the soil and returns the ash back into the ground, it also speeds of decomposing of dead wild life. It gives nutrients and life to the soil. I'll end the hippy farmer talk there.

Losing around 450 Million worth of housing and land real estate is not productive. It would have been a pain in the ass getting the insurance companies to pay out a fraction of the cost. It's the bank's loss now. :)

I was in SD for an hour this morning before driving back to LA. I had no idea there were fires and thought I smelled really delicious BBQ. *shrug*


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You can definitely tell there are fires now... San Diego is blanketed by smog from the fires. The San Marcos one is still big and burning.

There is a 747 water tanker or something or something now.

OSS 117

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If this keeps going then I'd say Canada will send some of her finest water tankers that can scoop up water from the ocean and dump it onto the fire.