High winds, temps offer little relief from Calif. fires

High winds, temps offer little relief from Calif. fires

Credit: Getty Images

A fireman keeps an eye on a burning house May 14, 2014 in San Marcos, California. About 500 acres have burned in the San Marcos blaze, fueled by record heat, high winds and dry conditions. At least four other fires advanced in nearby communities.

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by William M. Welch and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

NWCN.com

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 6:43 AM

Updated Thursday, May 15 at 6:43 AM

Officials ordered another round of evacuations early Thursday north of San Diego as gusty winds and near 100-degree temperatures offer little relief from at least nine fires that have consumed a 14-square mile area of southern California.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for San Diego County, which frees up special resources and funding for the firefight.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department ordered new evacuations for an area near San Marcos which was hit late Wednesday by 21,000 evacuation notices for residents and students at a California State University campus where nearly 10,000 students were in the middle of final exams. Legoland amusement park near San Marcos was closed because of a power outage caused by the fire.

The newest evacuation orders covered the areas of Questhaven, Harmony Grove and parts of Elfin Forest near San Marcos, KGTV reports.

Fire crews are also fighting flames in Carlsbad, Lompoc, Santa Paula, North Hills, Long Beach and Anaheim.

Hardest hit is Carlsbad, a coastal city about 30 miles north of San Diego where the blaze has destroyed hundreds of acres. Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said the blaze -- dubbed the Poinsettia fire -- consumed an eight-unit condominium complex, as well as damaged eight homes and two businesses.

Carlsbad is home to the Legoland amusement park that was closed because of a power outage caused by the fires.

Carlsbad fire officials said early Thursday that the Carlsbad fire has been 60 per cent contained.

The fires, coming earlier than normal in the wildfire season, are being fed by brush and trees left brittle by prolonged drought. They are also being whipped by a Santa Ana wind system that reverses the normal flow of wind from the Pacific Ocean and creates tinderbox fire conditions.

Contributing: Associated Press

Follow @dstanglin on Twitter

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