Wildfires burn across California
Published 15/05/2014 | 11:27
Wildfires are burning across more than 14 square miles of California, forcing thousands to flee their homes.
Firefighters contended with temperatures approaching 38C (100F) and gusty winds as they tried to contain flames fuelled by brush and trees left brittle by drought.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries - one heat-related and one from smoke inhalation.
The biggest concern was in San Marcos, north of San Diego, where a new blaze broke out. Some 21,000 evacuation notices were sent to residents and a California State University campus with nearly 10,000 students was evacuated.
The most destructive of the nine fires was in the coastal city of Carlsbad, about 30 miles north of San Diego and home to Legoland. The park was closed because of a power outage caused by the fire.
The city's schools were closed and officials said they expected they would not reopen until next week.
Carlsbad mayor Matt Hall said the blaze consumed an eight-unit condominium complex and damaged eight homes and two businesses. Thousands were asked to evacuate their homes.
As the flames surged, a steady stream of residents stopped at a roadblock as they tried to return home to collect valuables.
Richard Sanchez watched nervously as a plume of black smoke rose near his home. He had left his house an hour earlier to run an errand.
"All I want to do is get there and evacuate," Mr Sanchez said. "We have a plan, but I can't execute it."
Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for San Diego County, which would free up special resources and funding, and state fire officials were creating a central command centre for the blazes.
Drought conditions have made fire danger extremely high throughout much of California. Officials have encouraged residents in fire-prone areas to prepare evacuation plans and clear brush from near their homes.
Firefighters gained ground on another San Diego County fire that broke out on Tuesday and forced the evacuation of 20,000 homes.
Authorities reported 50% containment of the fire that broke out in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego.
The causes of the various fires were under investigation.