By MICHELLE MOWAD
More than a half dozen fires burned in San Diego County on Wednesday afternoon as strong, dry winds fueled flames. The wildfires first started on Tuesday morning in the Rancho Bernardo area. On Wednesday, several more blazes burned throughout the county.
Early in the morning, SDG&E shut off power to many customers in the county's backcounty customers. By afternoon, the county had declared a local emergency. Federal aid will be made available to authorities fighting the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad.
Several other small brush fires popped up in the county on Wednesday. A small brush fire was quickly extinguished in Scripps Ranch late Wednesday afternoon and crews quickly controlled another near Lakeside.
More than two dozen school districts have announced closures. Read the full list of openings and closures here.
A handful of medical facilities have also closed in North County.
The National Weather Service forecasted even hotter weather for Thursday, but less winds. The Red Flag warning will stay in effect through 5 p.m. Thursday.
U-Haul is offering free self-storage for those impacted by the fires. Read more here.
For information about where to go for evacuations as well as non-emergency questions, officials ask residents to call 2-1-1.
Find tips offered by the Red Cross about how to prepare in case of evacuation by clicking here.
Stay on top of the latest updates by reading the section below.
Carlsbad: Poinsettia Fire
Updated at 5:31 a.m., Thursday, May 15, 2014:
A wind-driven brush fire that damaged or destroyed more than two dozen Carlsbad residences, downed power lines and forced thousands of evacuations was about 50 percent contained early today.
The so-called Poinsettia Fire broke out for unknown reasons shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday near Poinsettia Lane and Alicante Road, just east of El Camino Real. Winds quickly pushed the flames about 400 acres and west toward neighborhoods and some high-tech businesses.
An 18-unit apartment complex, eight houses and two commercial structures were damaged or destroyed Wednesday, city officials said. The damage was estimated at $22.5 million.
Neighborhoods along Aviara Parkway and Black Rail Road sustained most of the damage, according to Cal Fire. No injuries were reported.
Authorities initially issued 15,000 evacuation notices to residents west of El Fuerte Road, south of Palomar Airport Road and north of Aviara Parkway. Among sites evacuated were Aviara Oaks elementary and middle schools, and Poinsettia Elementary, according to Carlsbad Unified School District officials, who said students were not in danger.
The evacuation order was later lifted for those east of El Camino Real, south of Alga Road, on Aviara Parkway from Poinsettia to Ambrosia lanes, in areas south of Aviara Parkway, and on Black Rail and Nightshade roads, Tohee Lane, Cormorant Drive and Baccharis Avenue.
All hotels near the airport on Palomar Airport Road are also open, according to city officials.
Temporary shelters for the displaced were set up at Calavera Hills Community Center, 2997 Glasgow Drive, and at La Costa Canyon High School, 1 Maverick Way. Pets are only allowed at La Costa Canyon High.
City officials said both shelters were fully stocked and need neither donations nor additional volunteers.
The fire was close to McClellan-Palomar Airport, but flight operations were not significantly affected Wednesday, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Aircraft were being directed around the smoke, he said.
Dove Library, Aviara Community Park and Alga Norte Community Park were closed, and Legoland California was evacuated as a safety precaution because of electrical power surges, officials said.
Fire-related road closures that remained in effect early today included Aviara Parkway from Ambrosia Lane to El Camino Real; El Camino Real from Alga to Palomar Airport Road; Camino Vide Robles from Palomar Airport Road to El Camino Real; Poinsettia Lane from Black Rail Road to El Camino Real; Palomar Oaks Way; and Cassia Road.
The blaze came amid a heat wave that was pushing temperatures well into the 90s along the coast. Winds, however, were not as strong as on Tuesday, when a wildfire charred 1,548 acres between 4S Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe.
Camp Pendleton: Tomahawk Fire and Freeway Fire
Updated: 5:36 a.m., Thursday, May 15, 2014:
A fire that scorched about 6,000 acres at Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook and on the eastern side of Camp Pendleton amid dry, blisteringly hot conditions was about 20 percent contained early today.
The so-called Tomahawk Fire erupted for unknown reasons around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday at Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook on the outskirts of Camp Pendleton, then spread onto the North County Marine Corps installation. Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook lost power and will be closed today.
Another fire charred more than two dozen acres along Interstate 5 and forced a full closure of the freeway for several hours.
Authorities evacuated the station along with military housing in the De Luz area, where the fire also knocked out power and damaged about 40 lines, base officials said. Crews delayed starting repairs overnight due to safety concerns.
Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School and De Luz Child Development Center were also evacuated.
Residents of the O'Neill Heights housing area were allowed to return home Wednesday night.
Base officials said nearly 900 evacuees sought shelter at the Paige Fieldhouse, and children evacuated from the De Luz Child Development Center were relocated to the Fisher Child Care Center.
The second blaze broke out on the eastern side of Interstate 5, near Las Pulgas Road, about 15 minutes after the first, according to the California Highway Patrol. The blaze, which was possibly caused by a fire that engulfed and gutted a box truck, blackened 30 acres and prompted a temporary closure of both sides of the freeway in the area.
Military and civilian crews from several area agencies battled the flames on the ground and from firefighting aircraft.
San Marcos: Cocos FireUpdated at 5:35 a.m., Wednesday, May 15, 2014:
A 700-acre fire that has burned at least four structures south of state Route 78 near Cal State San Marcos was zero percent contained this morning and continuing to force residents from their homes, authorities said.
The so-called Cocos Fire -- initially designated the Washingtonia Fire -- broke out for unknown reasons in the area of Cocos Drive about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to Cal Fire. The state firefighting agency said early today it has confirmed that three structures were destroyed and one was damaged by the fire.
It was one of several fires to erupt within hours of each other on Wednesday amid unseasonably hot, dry and windy weather conditions.
"(The) fire is still very active and continues to move to the south," Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said at 2:30 this morning.
Several thousand San Marcos-area residents were evacuated Wednesday afternoon and evening, and early this morning. The latest round of evacuation orders were sent via text, emails and phone calls to residents in the areas of Questhaven, Harmony Grove and parts of Elfin Forest in San Marcos and neighboring unincorporated areas of the county, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Earlier in the day Wednesday, campus officials cleared Cal State San Marcos. The campus will remain closed through Friday and this weekend's commencement ceremonies have been cancelled, according to university officials.
Other evacuated residents included those from the all neighborhoods south of San Marcos Boulevard, including Coronado Hills, Discovery Hills, Discovery Meadows, Lake San Marcos and North San Elijo Hills.
Emergency shelters were open at Mission Hills High School and at San Marcos Middle School.
Oceanside: River Fire
Updated at 8:52 p.m., May 14, 2014:
A wildfire that blackened about 50 acres in the bed of the San Luis Rey River and damaged a single structure was about 20 percent contained tonight, authorities reported.
The blaze erupted east of College Boulevard in Oceanside in the early afternoon, according to fire department officials.
Police evacuated residences on Andrew Jackson Street and surrounding streets and closed some traffic lanes while firefighters doused the flames.
As of about 7:45 p.m., fire crews had the blaze confined to the riverbed, according to city officials.
No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Rancho Bernardo Area: Bernardo Fire
Updated at 5:33 a.m., Thursday, May 15, 2014:
The first big wildfire to erupt in San Diego County this week amid red flag conditions was 50 percent contained early today.
The so-called Bernardo Fire torched nearly 1,600 acres of brush west of Black Mountain between around 11 a.m. Tuesday and early Wednesday, according to Cal Fire. It began off Nighthawk Lane, southwest of Rancho Bernardo, and has been held steady at nearly 1,600 acres since Wednesday morning, the state firefighting agency reported.
Three minor injuries have been reported with the Bernardo Fire but no structures were lost, though thousands were evacuated at the height of the incident. All evacuation orders were lifted Tuesday night.
City and county officials attributed what they called a "cooperative" attack by first responders and other emergency personnel for the lack of structural losses.
As the day went on Wednesday, several of those first responders and other emergency personnel were diverted to other fires that kept sprouting up in the county. Among them were significant fires in Carlsbad and San Marcos that resulted in damaged or destroyed homes.
The cause of the Bernardo Fire was under investigation.
Pala: Highway Fire
Updated at 11:44 p.m., Wednesday, May 14, 2014:
A wildfire rampaged across about 600 acres of brushy terrain in northern San Diego County today, jumping major roadways, threatening homes and forcing evacuations.
The blaze near state Route 76 and Old Highway 395 erupted for unknown reasons about 1 p.m., Cal Fire reported. As of about 10:30 p.m., the blaze was 5 percent contained.
Flames roared up and down hillsides, and images of a wind-whipped whirl of flame were circulating on social media.
Interstate 15, Old Highway 395 and state Route 76 were all closed near the blaze for several hours, but have since been reopened.
County officials said almost 600 households were contacted via the reverse 911 system, which urged residents to evacuate to Fallbrook High School, 2400 S. Stage Coach Lane. Cal Fire officials said the evacuation order was lifted tonight.
EscondidoUpdated at 3:13 p.m., Wednesday, May 14, 2014:
Crews have extinguished that small fire off the 2100 block of Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido, a dispatcher says. The blaze destroyed at least one outbuilding and several vehicles. No injuries have been reported.
Read More Here
- Carlsbad Evacuation Center Set Up at Westfield Plaza Camino Real
- Legoland California Closes due to Wildfires
- Carlsbad Fire Spread to Homes in Early Afternoon Heat
- Update: Carlsbad Elementary School Is Being Evacuated Due to Brush Fire
- Share Your Photos of Bernardo Fire [Photos]
- Large Animals Evacuated by Bernardo Fire Can Be Taken to Del Mar Fairgrounds
- County Offers Tips on How to Stay Safe During Red Flag Warning
- California Governor Says Fire Season 'Is Starting Much Earlier and Will Last Much Longer'
City News Service has contributed to this post.