Firefighters battle a blaze in Carlsbad, California.
At least two structures burned to the ground and some
15,000 homes and businesses were told to evacuate as a
wind-lashed wildfire roared out of control in the heart of a
Southern California coastal community.
The blaze, which erupted shortly before 11am (local time) in
Carlsbad, some 25 miles north of San Diego, quickly became
the most pressing battle for crews fighting flames across the
region amid soaring temperatures and hot Santa Ana winds.
"The safety and security of the community is our top
priority, and all available resources are being deployed,"
the city of Carlsbad said in a statement on its website that
confirmed the destruction of at least two structures.
The city did not say that those structures were homes, but
local TV images showed houses in the Carlsbad area consumed
by flames as thick black smoke filled the sky and drifted
over the Pacific Ocean.
The fires flared as California entered the height of wildfire
season in the midst of one of the state's worst droughts on
record, setting the stage for what fire officials fear could
be a particularly intense and dangerous year.
Some 15,0000 homes and businesses in and around Carlsbad
received the directive to evacuate ahead of the flames,
according to the city, and emergency shelters were set up at
area schools and community centers.
The Legoland amusement park was also evacuated, spokeswoman
Julie Estrada said, mostly because of power outages in the
area. San Diego Gas and Electric reported that an estimated
2,000 residents in and around Carlsbad were without
"It's right in the middle of the city," California Department
of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said
of the so-called Poinsettia Fire, which had blackened more
than 100 acres by mid-afternoon.
He said Cal Fire was assisting the Carlsbad Fire Department
in fighting the flames and had deployed water-dropping
aircraft over the community.
Meanwhile a second fire, called the Tomahawk, broke out on
the Camp Pendleton Marine Base north of San Diego and had
charred more than 100 acres by mid-afternoon, prompting
evacuation of military housing and a naval weapons station.
The new fires erupted just hours after crews aided by
diminished overnight winds, made substantial headway against
the so-called Bernardo Fire, which had forced thousands to
flee their homes in and around San Diego for several hours in
the afternoon and evening on Tuesday.
By daybreak on Wednesday, firefighters managed to establish
containment lines around 25 percent of the Bernardo Fire's
perimeter, with all evacuation orders lifted and area schools
reopened, according to fire officials.
Since erupting late on Tuesday morning, the Bernardo fire has
scorched more than 1,500 acres (607 hectares), and officials
said dangerous conditions persist.
"The Santa Ana winds are expected to continue through this
evening and the high temperatures and strong, gusty winds are
expected to elevate danger even higher than it has been,"