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California wildfires: Live report from San Diego as flames and fear fill the air

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California wildfires in San Diego are filling the air here with smoke, flames, and fear. Due to the wildfires, California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in San Diego County. According to the latest live report by San Diego’s 10News on Wednesday, May 14, more homes have been ordered to evacuate, and many people are wondering, will we be next?

For the past three days, San Diegans have experienced relentless and gusty Santa Ana winds coming from the desert bringing high temperatures and summer heat into San Diego. Usually, San Diegans experience “May gray” this time of the year with cool winds and fog coming from the ocean. But not this year. Record-breaking temperatures in May are reaching into the upper 90s. Tomorrow’s forecast is in the 100s here in the inland valleys, about 15 minutes east from downtown San Diego.

The mix of insufficient rain during the winter and now the unusual hot and dry Santa Ana winds coming from the desert has turned San Diego here into a dry and brittle pile of kindling. Santa Ana winds, also known as “devil winds” in Southern California, can blow at more than 100 miles per hour. Being hot and dry, it takes little to set that kindling on fire.

Unlike other big cities, San Diego does not consist of high-rise buildings or houses build of bricks because of the earthquake danger. The houses here are mainly made of wood (which moves in an earthquake), and the houses are located in nature. What makes San Diego so beautiful is what makes San Diego so dangerous right now – and living in a brittle pile of kindling is no fun at the moment.

Yesterday, two fires broke out within a 20-minute distance from here knocking out the power to the auto mechanic (so much for getting your car fixed) and sending the vet to take care of some horses and goats that needed to be rescued. By 6 a.m., this morning, a 40-foot Eucalyptus tree broke at the stem after the gusty Santa Ana winds (which are strongest in the early morning hours) send it crushing down onto the roof right over your head. What a way to wake up!

But none of the two fires in San Diego’s East County are comparable to the seven fires that are burning about 30 minutes north of here. As of tonight, 600 more homes have been ordered to evacuate. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has issued roughly 600 new mandatory evacuation notifications in the Elfin Forest, Indian Ridge Road, Crestwind Road, Wilgen Drive and Bresa De Loma Drive areas in San Marcos.

The San Diego County Emergency website reports that as of 9:30 p.m. on May 14, the “Bernardo Fire in San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe is at 1,548 Acres with 50 percent containment. The incident is under Unified Command between CAL FIRE, San Diego Fire Rescue and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department.”

The “Cocos Fire in San Marcos is at 450 Acres with no containment. Five structures were destroyed and two structures were damaged. The incident is under Unified Command between CAL FIRE, San Marcos Fire Department and Elfin Forest. The evacuation order is still in effect.”

The “Highway Fire in Deer Springs [10 minutes east from here] is at 600 Acres with 5 percent containment. Evacuations have been lifted for this incident.”

California Wildfires Fact Sheet presented at an 8:30 p.m. news conference at San Diego’s County Emergency Operations Center reports that the nine fires have destroyed 10 structures in the Poinsettia fire. The Poinsettia Fire burned 400 acres, the Tomahawk Fire burned 6,000 acres, the Highway Fire burned 600 acres, the Bernardo Fire burned 1,548 acres, the Freeway/Pendleton Fire burned 30 acres, the San Marcos/Cocos Fire burned 500 acres, and the River/Oceanside Fire burned 100 acres – so far. There have been “121,878 Alert San Diego contacts to alert residents to evacuate or prepare to evacuate.”

When ordered to evacuate, make sure your windows and doors are closed. Dry embers have set some of the houses on fire because sparks flew inside.Tomorrow, 28 school districts have closed their schools, and San Marco State University has canceled their graduation ceremony planned for Friday.

Firefighters are relentlessly fighting through the night to save San Diego, its residents, and its beloved pets. The Helen Woodward Animal Center had to evacuate most of its shelter animals. Only a few hospitalized horses were kept on location. As of Wednesday night, the flames and smoke are going straight up rather than speeding across the dry and dangerous pile of kindling called San Diego, meaning that the Santa Ana winds have calmed down. According to the latest weather report, the winds are supposed to stay calm giving firefighters a chance to do their job. It is because of those fire-fighting men and women that some residents are able to return back to their homes with everything else burned around them – thank you firefighters.

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