San Diego Wildfire Near 4S Ranch Burns 800 Acres, Forces Evacuations

Image: San Diego Wildfire Near 4S Ranch Burns 800 Acres, Forces Evacuations A helicopter attacks a wildfire burning in the north county of San Diego.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 10:31 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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A San Diego wildfire burned 800 acres of the Bernardo and 4S Ranch-areas Tuesday as officials raced to evacuate homes and schools in the vicinity, and so far no injuries have been reported.

San Diego fire chief Javier Mainar told KPBS that the fire was 5 percent contained as of Tuesday evening.

"We will learn something from this fire . . . but this went extremely well," Mainar said at a news conference, noting that more than 150 firefighters were battling the blaze at one point.

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The Rancho Bernardo-4S Ranch Patch website reported that more than 5,000 homes and businesses were evacuated from the Rancho Penasquitos and Rancho Santa Fe areas while Torrey Pines High School acted as an evacuation center.

Emergency personnel lifted evacuation orders for the Fairbanks Ranch and eastern Rancho Santa Fe areas around 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to Patch.

"It has been, to say the least, a very challenging day for local fire agencies and law enforcement agencies," Mainar told CNN. "It is unusual in May to have wind-driven fires like this that prove to be such a challenge to contain."

Ranch Santa Fe Fire district chief Tony Michel said that the early wildfire could be indicative of more challenges to come for area firefighters this year.

"This is going to be a pretty severe fire season," he told CNN. "We're in a prolonged drought."

The National Weather Service released what is called a "red flag warning" for the San Diego area through 8 p.m. Wednesday.

"Red flag warnings mean that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly," the memo stated. "A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will create extreme fire behavior."

Temperatures in the San Diego are predicted to top out in the mid-90s Wednesday and Thursday with no threat of rain, and then will likely cool off over the weekend.

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