Crews Gain Ground On San Diego Wildfire, Evacuation Orders Lifted
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[May 14, 2014]
By Marty Graham
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - California fire
crews were gaining ground late on Tuesday on a wind-whipped wildfire
that blackened more than a square mile in San Diego county, allowing
authorities to lift thousands of evacuation orders in the area.
No injuries have been reported and no homes damaged in the blaze,
officials said. The cause of the fire, which erupted on Tuesday
morning amid temperatures above 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) and high
winds, remained unclear.
The so-called Bernardo fire comes as California enters its peak fire
season in the midst of one of its worst droughts in decades, setting
the stage for what state officials worry could be a particularly
intense and dangerous year.
"That's the problem, we have increased temperatures, low humidity
and very high winds that are fanning the flames and pushing fire
along," said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Shortly after nightfall, authorities lifted countywide evacuation
orders and schools that had been evacuated were expected to resume
classes on Wednesday, San Diego Fire Chief Javier Mainar told an
evening press conference.
The fire burned some 800 acres, though winds that were gusting up to
25 miles per hour earlier in the day were dying down, making the
work easier for firefighters scrambling across tough terrain, Mainar
At its peak, hundreds of firefighters, assisted by water-dropping
aircraft, fought to keep the flames from advancing into San Diego
neighborhoods, officials said.
The Bernardo fire snaked through brush-filled canyons that punctuate
the area of upscale homes and gated communities that sit on the
mesas above the burning canyons.
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California officials have kept staffing levels for wildland
firefighters at elevated levels since last year because of the
Officials made more than 20,000 evacuation calls to residences,
businesses and mobile phones, the San Diego County Emergency Site
said on Tuesday afternoon.
However, San Diego city and county officials told an evening news
conference only about 5,000 evacuation notices had been issued.
(Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego and Dan Whitcomb in Los
Angeles; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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