San Diego County is ablaze as the wind-whipped flames of several wildfires spurred mass evacuations, including several medical centers, and the closing of Legoland, a popular theme park in Carlsbad.
More than 20 homes caught fire Wednesday as schools, freeways and rail service were closed and large animals throughout the county were being shuttled to shelters.
California was in the second day of a heat wave, complicating efforts. The National Weather Service forecasts even hotter weather for Thursday but lighter winds.
Eight distinct wildfires were reported in southern California, covering well over 3,300 acres as of Wednesday evening.
The blaze in Carlsbad broke out shortly after 10:30 a.m. Winds quickly pushed the flames west toward neighborhoods and some high-tech businesses, with the first reports of homes burning coming about 12:30 p.m. By mid-afternoon, the flames spread over at least 100 acres, Carlsbad Fire Chief Michael Davis told reporters. The city issued 15,000 evacuation notices.
"This is a very difficult firefight. This is an urban wildland firefight, so it is definitely more difficult than you would see in a more rural setting," Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler said.
Two fires erupted on Camp Pendleton Wednesday, with one blackening hundreds of acres on the eastern side of the base and the other charring several dozen acres along Interstate 5. The freeway was closed for several hours. Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, military housing and local schools were evacuated, according to Camp Pendleton public affairs.
As flames leapt over I-5, engulfing and gutting a box truck, the California Highway Patrol closed the highway for a while. By late afternoon, the Camp Pendleton fires covered 600 acres. Military and civilian crews battled the flames on the ground and aboard firefighting aircraft.
Rail service was suspended in the San Onofre area for a time around midday, according to North County Transit District.
More than 300 firefighters battled a 1,600-acre blaze near Rancho Bernardo that broke out Tuesday. By Wednesday evening, officials said it was more than 50 percent contained.
- Legoland California Closes Due to Wildfires
- California Governor Says Fire Season 'Is Starting Much Earlier and Will Last Much Longer'
- Carlsbad Fire Spread to Homes in Early Afternoon Heat
- Carlsbad Elementary School Evacuated Due to Brush Fire
- Camp Pendleton Wildfires Interrupt Rail Service
- Large Animals Evacuated to Del Mar Fairgrounds