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San Diego Wildfires: Evacuation Orders Lifted

May 18, 2014

Evacuees were finally able to return home Saturday after firefighters had extinguished all but three of the at least 10 fires that have scorched tens of thousands of acres of land in the San Diego area. Tens of thousands were forced to evacuate since the first of the fires broke out Tuesday, but improving weather conditions since Friday have finally helped calm the blazes.

Background

Current Temperatures

Current Temperatures

Current Temperatures

Current Temperatures

"Temperature-wise, relief has arrived for much of southern California," said Warrilow. "Onshore winds are ushering cooler air into the region, which will bring temperatures back down to average along the coast. Expect daytime highs in the 70s as well as higher humidity, morning low clouds and fog."

As the fires burn out, the destructive toll they took on communities in the area is becoming more clear. Fires burned an 18-unit condominium complex, at least 47 houses and three businesses. Also, a burnt body was found at a homeless camp and a firefighter suffered heat exhaustion.

Investigators, meanwhile, continued to seek the causes of the conflagrations. The cause of one of the first blazes was determined to be accidental, but foul play is expected to be a cause in at least one of the fires. Alberto Serrato, 57, was arrested and charged with arson for fanning the flames of a 105-acre fire in Oceanside.

(MORE: Fire Danger DiminishingCalifornia's Wildfire Season Is Lasting All Year)

Authorities continue to collect clues about what could have caused so many fires to spark at nearly the same time. Eight of the blazes popped up between late morning and sundown on Wednesday, raising suspicions that some had been set.

Here's a look at the status of some of the most-impactful fires.

Cocos Fire: San Marcos – 85 Percent Contained, 2,500 Acres Burned

The Cocos fire grew to 2,500 acres, but was 85 percent contained by Sunday afternoon, with full containment expected later Sunday. As many as 12 homes were destroyed by the fire, the Los Angeles Times reports, and more than 1,200 firefighters continued to tackled the blaze Saturday.  More than 30,000 residents were evacuated, but all evacuations were fully lifted on Saturday night. A shelter has been set up at Mission Hills High School. Three homes were destroyed, and a California State University campus was also evacuated as students were trying to finish finals week. One man was arrested trying to loot evacuated homes.

Poinsettia Fire: Carlsbad – Fully Contained, 400 Acres Burned

Authorities discovered a badly burned body in land scorched by a wildfire in Carlsbad Thursday, located at the site of a transient encampment. An investigation is underway to identify the body, and the Carlsbad Fire Department has no further details on the deceased. The Poinsettia fire, which reached 400 acres Thursday, has been the most destructive to residential areas so far. An 18-unit condo complex, eight homes and at least two businesses have been destroyed. The city estimates the damage costs from this fire alone at $22.5 million, according to NBC San Diego. Fire crews announced Friday morning that the fire is fully contained.

Las Pulgas Fire: Camp Pendleton - 55 Percent Contained, 15,000 Acres Burned

The Las Pulgas Fire, which sparked Thursday, had grown from 6,000 acres to 8,000 acres by Friday morning. By Saturday, the fire had reached a massive 15,000 acres. Thick plumes of smoke from the Las Pulgas fire were visible in Los Angeles on Friday, the Los Angeles Times Reports.  The fire forced evacuations for Camp Las Pulgas in the center of Camp Pendleton as well as Camp Margarita and Camp Las Flores.

San Mateo Fire: Camp Pendleton - 80 Percent Contained, 1,500 Acres Burned

The San Mateo Fire (also called the Talega Fire and the Combat Fire) first sparked at 11:42 a.m. on Friday. Parts of Camp Pendleton were evacuated including the School of Infantry-West and a housing area. All non-essential personnel at Camp Pendleton were sent home at noon on Friday.

Tomahawk Fire: Camp Pendleton – 97 Percent Contained, 5,400 Acres Burned

The Tomahawk fire has burned 5,400 acres at Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook. Workers at Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, families living in Camp Pendleton's De Luz as well as Mary Fay Elementary were evacuated. The San Onofre nuclear power plant was also evacuated. The Tomahawk Fire was 97 percent contained by Sunday morning.

Bernardo Fire: Oceanside – Fully  Contained, 1,550 Acres Burned

The swift-moving fire began Tuesday in undeveloped land near Rancho Bernardo. The fire has burned about 1,550 acres and was fully contained Sunday. Cal Fire reported three injuries. No structural damage was reported and investigators determined that the cause of the fire was accidental. At one point Tuesday, 20,000 were evacuated, but the San Diego County Sheriff's Department has lifted all evacuations.

Highway Fire: Deer Springs – Fully Contained, 380 Acres Burned

The Highway Fire burned 380 acres off Old Highway 395 and I-15 since it started Wednesday just after lunch. CBS8.com reported the blaze was fully contained Friday morning. Stretches of Interstate 15, Old Highway 395 and SR-76 were closed for several hours as crews battled the blaze. No homes were damaged, but some houses in Fallbrook and Bonsall were in danger earlier in the week as the fire raged, according to NBC San Diego.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

Jeff Brown waters the roof of his home as vegetation smolders during a wildfire, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in Escondido, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)


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