SAN DIEGO — Families returned to their homes Thursday night after spending much of Christmas Eve evacuated because of the Creek Fire.
The fire is burning 4,276 acres at 35% containment, according to an 8:30 p.m. update from Cal Fire San Diego. Fire officials said they don’t plan to release further updates Thursday night unless there are significant changes.
De Luz Road has reopened and Camp Pendleton said all evacuees were cleared to go back to their homes after firefighters established a ring around the Creek Fire, which stopped it from reaching any housing areas.
Evacuation orders and warnings south of De Luz Road were lifted as of 5 p.m. Evacuation warnings to the west and north remained in effect.
The Red Cross temporary evacuation point at Fallbrook High School has transitioned to a virtual help center. Creek Fire evacuees needing hotels and other services are asked to call 571-595-7911.
Camp Pendleton said firefighters were working to burn off brush near O’Neill Heights to the east into the Naval Weapons Station.
“If you light that off, it sucks the other fire into it and puts it out. That is what we’re trying to do,” Brig. Gen. Dan Conley said in a 4 p.m. update, adding that neither housing area on the base was threatened.
The fire started late Wednesday along De Luz Road in Fallbrook. Cal Fire announced evacuation orders just before 3 a.m. for 7,000 people living on the west side of Fallbrook, roughly south of Main Avenue and S. Mission Road.
Evacuation orders were previously issued for homes along De Luz Road in and north of Fallbrook. San Diego Sheriff’s deputies were going door-to-door warning residents about the fire along Patton Oaks Road, Shady Lane, Darla Lane and a portion of Main Avenue.
By 4:30 a.m., Santa Ana winds were pushing the fire away from Fallbrook into Camp Pendleton, firefighters reported. All evacuation orders remained in place in fear that a shift in wind direction would fan the fire toward homes.
The fire was said to be pushing west-southwest of De Luz Road and moving further onto Camp Pendleton toward Ammunition Road.
A temporary evacuation point at Fallbrook High School was being operated like a drive-thru due to COVID-19 and evacuees were asked to wear masks. Red Cross workers approached evacuees in their cars to ask what help they needed.
Evacuation orders were in effect for De Luz Housing, Wounded Warrior Battalion, O’Neill Heights and Lake O’Neill campground on Camp Pendleton. Evacuated residents were told to relocate to Paige Fieldhouse.
Shortly after 11 a.m., some evacuation orders in Fallbrook were reduced to warnings. By 4 p.m., the county evacuation map showed all mandatory evacuation orders for Fallbrook were lifted.
Areas of the county were under a red flag warning and power was out for 3,800 SDG&E customers because of Santa Ana winds early Thursday. Power was restored to all customers by 3:15 p.m.
The gusty winds peaked by 5 a.m. and the red flag warning was set to expire at noon. Gusts were expected to reach up to 25 miles per hour through 3 p.m.
San Diego County Air Pollution Control issued an updated smoke advisory and advised residents in impacted areas to limit physical activity and stay indoors.
Cal Fire warned people who live in the area to stay alert, check for updates and evacuate early if they feel threatened.
Those needing emergency assistance with evacuation were asked to call 911. If you need more information, visit www.sdcountyemergency.com or call the San Diego Sheriff’s Department non-emergency line at 858-565-5200.
Residents concerned about their pets or livestock were encouraged to call County Animal Services at 619-236-2341.
Check back for updates on this developing story.