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State of emergency declared in San Diego County as wildfires rage (PHOTOS)

Published time: May 14, 2014 22:36
Edited time: May 15, 2014 03:51
Firefighters battle a fire in Carlsbad, California May 14, 2014. (Reuters / Sam Hodgson)

Firefighters battle a fire in Carlsbad, California May 14, 2014. (Reuters / Sam Hodgson)

Dry conditions and blistering heat have led to multiple fires in the San Diego County, California area on Wednesday, leading Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency. The fires have burnt several homes and prompted thousands of evacuations.

Two fires broke out at Camp Pendleton, a top US Marine Corps base in northern San Diego County. The blazes charred about 100 acres in areas near Interstate 5, causing the freeway to shut down, the Times of San Diego reported. Some Camp Pendleton residents were forced to flee their housing.

A separate blaze, dubbed the Poinsettia Fire, resulted in the evacuation of thousands of residents in Carlsbad – less than ten miles from Camp Pendleton – from over 11,000 homes, schools, and businesses. San Diego Gas and Electric reported that an estimated 2,000 residents in and around Carlsbad were without power, and a number of homes were engulfed in flames, according to Reuters.

In Fallbrook, located about 30 miles northeast of Carlsbad, a brush fire led to a midday evacuation order in areas near Interstate 15.

Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency in the area hours after conditions prompted San Diego County officials to proclaim a local emergency.

The state Office of Emergency Services announced that federal aid is open to local authorities combating the Poinsettia Fire. A fire management assistance grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the much of firefighting costs for responding local, state, and tribal agencies working against the fires, according to the state OES.

"We welcome FEMA's approval of Governor (Jerry) Brown's request for assistance," said state OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. "Fires like the Poinsettia Fire can put a strain on resources, particularly at a time when dry conditions due to the drought, above normal temperatures and winds have increased the wildfire threat significantly."

The Wednesday fires follow the outbreak of Tuesday’s Bernardo Fire, also in the San Diego area. Bernardo caused thousands to evacuate their homes in and around the city of San Diego, into the evening hours, until fire crews got a handle on the blaze. The fire torched 1,500 acres of brush.

"We're very worried about today," said Lee Swanson, a spokeswoman for San Diego Fire and Rescue. "We're looking at gusting winds to 50 miles per hour, humidity at 5 percent and temperatures reaching 100 degrees (Fahrenheit). Those are dangerous conditions."

The outbreak of fires in Southern California mark the beginning of the area’s wildfire season, exacerbated this year by record drought levels and unseasonably hot temperatures in the region.

A Helicopter assists in fighting fire at the Ranch Fire near San Diego, California May 13, 2014. (Reuters / Sandy Huffaker)

A bush is fully engulfed at the Ranch Fire near San Diego, California May 13, 2014. (Reuters / Sandy Huffaker)

Fire-fighters work to put out spot fires caused by strong winds as they keep close watch over the Bernardo fire north of San Diego, California May 14, 2014. (Reuters / Sandy Huffaker)

Greg Saska watches his mother's house burn as firefighters battle a fire in Carlsbad, California May 14, 2014. (Reuters / Sam Hodgson)

A fire-fighter works to put out spot fires caused by strong winds as they keep close watch over the Bernardo fire north of San Diego, California May 14, 2014. (Reuters / Mike Blake)

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