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Friday, May 16, 2014 - 4:00pm

California Wildfires: Death Reported, More Evacuations Ordered

This post was updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

Wildfires have burned more than 10,000 acres of brush land and caused at least one death in San Diego County. Evacuations have continued in areas such as San Marcos, where thousands of people were told to leave their homes Thursday.

A third wildfire erupted on Friday at Camp Pendleton, a U.S. Marine Corp base, according to member station KPBS. Meanwhile, a fire in Carlsbad was considered 85 percent contained, and another that scorched 400 acres in northeastern San Diego Country had been fully contained.

Some evacuation orders in other areas have been lifted as firefighters gain control, aided by easing weather conditions. But some residents are returning to find their homes burned-out shells.

The first death with a potential connection to the fires was reported by KPBS Thursday, after firefighters found a badly burned body in a transient camp in Carlsbad, where the 400-acre Poinsettia Fire has destroyed 18 apartments and either destroyed or badly damaged eight houses.

"Nearly 16,000 new evacuation orders were issued in San Marcos and nearby Escondido Thursday," CBS News reports. "Over the last four days, officials have told 125,000 people to leave their homes. More than 2,500 firefighters are working across San Diego County aided by water-dropping aircraft."

Hundreds of people are in shelters, and residents who are trying to go about their lives are forced to navigate around the fires, which have caused many roads and highways to close.

As San Diego County copes with the fires, police arrested two teenagers last night for suspected arson. Police say the pair "started at least two brush fires in San Diego's Escondido area," NBC 7 News reports. Investigators have not tied the pair to any other fires in the area.

Three large and still mostly uncontained fires have now burned more than 17,000 acres in the area as of Friday morning (local time), according to member station KPCC's Fire Tracker. Another blaze, the Bernardo Fire, is 75 percent contained after burning more than 1,500 acres, officials say.

The 6,000-acre Tomahawk Fire "has grown past the containment line and is approaching the city of Fallbrook," KPBS reported Thursday.

From San Diego, Tom Fudge of KPBS tells our Newscast unit:

"San Diego old-timers say they've never seen such hot, dry winds in May. But those winds have been blowing for three days, and so far, 25 homes have been lost.

"Today, the most serious of several fires has been threatening the northern San Diego suburb of San Marcos. Cal Fire commander Tom Porter points out California's drought has left a very dry landscape 'to the point where we have dead vegetation and fuels that are very volatile.'

"This weekend, the Santa Ana winds are expected to diminish and disappear."

Before that promised relief arrives, San Diego will endure another day of high temperatures. The National Weather Service forecast calls for highs in the 90s for much of the county Friday.


For more on fire conditions in California and across most of the U.S., check out NPR's Fire Forecast app, which is updated daily. The interactive should take you right to San Diego County, but you can change the location by entering a new "ZIP code, city, etc."

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