Diminished winds and cooling temperatures over the weekend helped
crews completely or mostly encircle nearly a dozen fires by Sunday
that have charred at least 26,000 acres of drought-parched brush in
San Diego County since the middle of last week.
No serious injuries have been reported, though officials were trying
to determine whether a burned human corpse found on Thursday at a
homeless encampment in the coastal town of Carlsbad had died in the
Stoked by an unseasonable mix of triple-digit temperatures,
extremely low humidity and hot, dry Santa Ana winds blowing in from
the desert, the blazes highlighted what was already shaping up as
one of the earliest and fiercest starts to California's wildfire
season in decades.
Even before last week's conflagrations in San Diego County, more
than 1,350 wildfires had erupted statewide since January, double the
number tallied during the same period in 2013, said Mike Mohler, a
spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Brown, appearing on ABC News, said a prolonged drought and the surge
in wildfire activity were ominous signs of a changing climate that
will compel California "to make very expensive investments and
"We're in a very serious fire season, more serious than we've seen
before," Brown said. "Humanity is on a collision course with nature,
and we're going to have to adapt to it in the best way we can."
By Sunday, firefighters had managed to carve containment lines
around 85 percent of the so-called Cocos fire, which last week
destroyed 39 houses in the town of San Marcos, north of San Diego,
according to Cal Fire spokesman Kendal Bortisser.
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A smaller fire that raged in Carlsbad was 100 percent contained on
Sunday after causing property losses estimated at up to $15 million,
including eight houses and an 18-unit apartment building destroyed.
Firefighters also were gaining an upper hand against three large
blazes that burned across more than 20,000 acres of the sprawling
Camp Pendleton Marine Base north of San Diego.
As many as 125,000 people living in and around San Diego,
California's second-largest city, had been forced to flee their
homes last week, but most evacuations had been lifted by Sunday.
The origins of the blazes remained unknown. While arson
investigators were looking for possible links between them, none of
the fires has been ruled suspicious, fire officials said.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Bernard Orr)
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