Several major wildfires currently blazing through Carlsbad, San Marcos, Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton continued to burn Wednesday afternoon in North County, San Diego, where over a dozen homes were destroyed. Thousands of people were evacuated from the area as dry winds fanned the flames across the parched brush. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the Carlsbad fire was controlled by 3 p.m. after it had burned about 100 acres, but the threat of a new fire was still high due to hot spots that are littered throughout the area. Officials said that only three homes were destroyed, and at least 15 were damaged. Interstate 15 and state Route 76 reopened at around 4:30 p.m. with California Highway Patrol officers escorting traffic in both directions while firefighters continued to fight a large brush fire between South Mission and Old Highway 395 on Route 76.
California State University – San Marcos was evacuated during the students’ final exams week at about 3:40 p.m. as fire spread on the hill south of the campus. All neighborhoods south of San Marcos Boulevard, including Discovery Hills, North San Elijo Hills and Coronado Hills were under an evacuation notice. Mission Hills High School, San Marcos High School, and 1 Mission Court have been set up as evacuation centers. CSU San Marcos will be closed on Thursday.
One fire in Camp Pendleton started at 9:45 a.m. at the Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, while a second one started at around 10 a.m. on the east side of Interstate 5 close to Las Pulgas Road, according to 10 News. The wildfires raged and blackened over 1,000 acres while civilian and military personnel fought the flames.
Yesterday, San Diego suffered a wildfire that blazed in Rancho Bernardo and 4S Ranch, although no one was injured and no homes were reported destroyed or damaged. It burned over 1,500 acres. By Wednesday morning, it was contained about 25 percent, according to Southern California Public Radio. Spokesperson Lee Swanson of the San Diego Fire Department said that there is no “fire season” anymore. “It’s year-round.”
San Diegans who are not immediately affected by the wildfires can take precautions to reduce the risk of a major fire breakout. The County of San Diego website suggests that homes need a defensible space around them, which is an area where “combustible vegetation that can spread fire has been cleared, reduced or replaced.” This space is the first line of defense against an advancing fire and needs to be at least 100 feet in radius from the property.
Fire-resistant plants should be planted in the first 50 feet from the home, while natural plant life should fill the other 50-foot space. Proper plant irrigation can prevent plants from igniting, and the plants furthest from the property should be cut and trimmed no more than six inches above the ground. Fire-resistant plants, which are usually drought-resistant also, often have a low sap or resin content, grow close to the ground, and do not have dead leaves, branches or needles that gather in bundles on the ground like dry kindling. Overhanging branches or those that touch the property must be trimmed. San Diego residents who follow this and other guidelines on the county’s website can minimize the risk of blazing wildfires destroying or damaging their homes.
By Nick Ng
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San Diego Union-Tribune
Southern California Public Radio
County of San Diego