Carlsbad residents return home after devastating fires

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CARLSBAD, Calif. — Carlsbad residents who were evacuated as a 400-acre wind-driven brush fire damaged or destroyed several residences and commercial buildings and downed power lines were allowed to return to their homes Thursday night.

Authorities initially issued 15,000 evacuation notices to residents west of El Fuerte Road, south of Palomar Airport Road and north of Aviara Parkway after the so-called Poinsettia Fire broke out for unknown reasons shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday near Poinsettia Lane and Alicante Road, just east of El Camino Real.

Among sites evacuated were Aviara Oaks elementary and middle schools, and Poinsettia Elementary, according to Carlsbad Unified School District officials, who said students were not in danger.

About 100 of the evacuees stayed overnight at shelters at Calavera Hills Community Center, 2997 Glasgow Drive, and at La Costa Canyon High School, 1 Maverick Way.

The blaze was about 60 percent contained today.

Winds over the past couple days pushed the flames about 400 acres and west toward neighborhoods and some high-tech businesses.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, in a morning news conference, thanked first responders, saying “although there was major structural damage done here in Carlsbad, we literally saved hundreds of homes.”

City officials said 18-unit apartment complex and a modular building were destroyed. Eight single-family homes and two commercial buildings were destroyed or incurred substantial damage.

Another 18-unit apartment complex sustained considerable damage and three single-family homes sustained minor damage, officials said.

The monetary losses have been estimated at $22.5 million, authorities said.

Neighborhoods along Aviara Parkway and Black Rail Road sustained most of the damage, according to Cal Fire. No injuries were reported.

The fire burned close to McClellan-Palomar Airport, but flight operations were not significantly affected Wednesday, said Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration. Aircraft were being directed around the smoke, he said.

Today, the airport was open but with FAA-imposed temporary flight restrictions with regards to how low aircraft could fly, according to the county.

City Hall, Faraday Center, Carlsbad Senior Center, Cole Library and the Library Learning Center will be open Friday. However, the Dove Library will be closed and all city Parks and Recreation classes will be canceled.

Fire-related road closures that remained in effect early today included El Camino Real from Alga to Palomar Airport Road; Poinsettia Lane from Black Rail Road to El Camino Real; Palomar Oaks Way; and Cassia Road.

Major roadways throughout the city were reopened Thursday, but access to Ambrosia Lane was limited.

The previously closed Camino Vida Robles from Palomar Airport Road to El Camino Real, along with Aviara Parkway from Ambrosia Lane to El Camino Real, were reopened, city officials said.

The blaze came amid a heat wave that was pushing temperatures well into the 90s along the coast. Winds, however, were not as strong as on Tuesday, when a wildfire charred nearly 1,600 acres between 4S Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe.

The Carlsbad Police Department established a “hotline” for tips about the Poinsettia Fire. Anyone with information about the possible origin of the blaze was asked to call (760) 602-7599.

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