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Firefighters prepare aerial assault on San Marcos blaze

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SAN DIEGO — SAN DIEGO — Firefighters said their No. 1 priority Thursday is an 800-acre wildfire that has destroyed three homes and is threatening hundreds of others in the hills around San Marcos.

Wildfire Forces Evacuation Of Thousands In Carlsbad, California

Fires rage above an apartment complex May 14, 2014 in San Marcos, California. (Photo by Bill Wechter/Getty Images)

The Cocos Fire continued to burn out of control in steep, chaparral-covered terrain, Cal Fire officials said at an 8:30 a.m. briefing. Firefighters worked through the night and were able to put containment lines around 5 percent of the blaze, they said.

The fire destroyed three homes and damaged a a condominium on Wednesday, but helicopters from the San Diego Fire Department made 45 water drops on the fire after dark, helping to prevent more homes from burning, officials said.

Thursday morning, the strong winds which spread the fire so quickly on Wednesday had abated, making the firefighters optimistic that they could make progress against fire.

Wednesday, Cal Fire’s huge DC-10 tanker was able to make two retardant drops on the Cocos Fire, but that aircraft, which flies out of Victorville, Calif., is not available Thursday, officials said. Instead, four smaller tanker planes will continue air drops. In addition, the Marines are making 12 military helicopters available for water drops.

The Cocos Fire — initially designated the Washingtonia Fire — broke out for unknown reasons in the area of Cocos Drive about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to Cal Fire. The state firefighting agency said early today it has confirmed that three structures were destroyed and one was damaged by the fire.

It was one of several fires to erupt within hours of each other on Wednesday amid unseasonably hot, dry and windy weather conditions.

Several thousand San Marcos-area residents were evacuated Wednesday afternoon and evening, and early this morning. The latest round of evacuation orders were sent via text, emails and phone calls to residents in the areas of Questhaven, Harmony Grove and parts of Elfin Forest in San Marcos and neighboring unincorporated areas of the county, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Earlier in the day Wednesday, campus officials cleared Cal State San Marcos. The campus will remain closed through Friday and this weekend’s commencement ceremonies have been cancelled, according to university officials.

Other evacuated residents included those from the all neighborhoods south of San Marcos Boulevard, including Coronado Hills, Discovery Hills, Discovery Meadows, Lake San Marcos and North San Elijo Hills.

Emergency shelters were open at Mission Hills High School and at San Marcos Middle School.

Road closures in effect this morning included:

  • South Twin Oaks Valley Road at Highway 78;
  • Craven Road at Twin Oaks Valley Road;
  • Village Drive at Twin Oaks Valley Road;
  • San Elijo Road at Double Peak Road;
  • Melrose Drive at Rancho Santa Fe Road;
  • Melrose Drive at San Elijo Road;
  • San Elijo Road at Rancho Santa Fe Road;
  • Elfin Forest Road at Calistoga Way;
  • Questhaven Road at the city limit;
  • Coronado Hills Drive at Via Del Camp; and
  • Fallsview Road at San Elijo Road.



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