california wildfires
May 16, 2014

California Wildfire Update: Two Teens Arrested For Arson; Burned Body Found In Carlsbad

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

UPDATE: May 16, 2014 (9:15AM CDT)

The ongoing California wildfires have apparently claimed their first victim, as firefighters discovered a badly burned body in a transient encampment in Carlsbad, city officials confirmed on Friday.

According to Erik Ortiz and Erin McClam of NBC News, the body was found in the area of Ambrosia and Calliandra. The individual has not yet been identified, and officials said that there were no other fire-related injuries in the area.

Later on Thursday, the Carlsbad evacuation order was lifted, and residents were allowed to return to their homes and survey the damage, Ortiz and McClam noted. The wildfires there have been responsible for destroying 18 condos, four single-family homes and two commercial properties thus far, the reporters added.

In related news, a pair of teenagers were arrested Thursday evening after allegedly attempting to start at least a pair of brush fires in the Escondido region of San Diego, USA Today’s Natalie DiBlasio reported on Friday. Nineteen-year-old Isaiah Silva of Escondido and an unnamed 17-year-old juvenile were taken into custody on suspicion of attempted arson.

An onlooker unsuccessfully attempted to pursue the teens, who were on bicycles, but Escondido police were eventually able to apprehend them. Lt. Neal Griffin told USA Today that investigators have not yet been able to connect the teens to the larger brush fires, which have forced mass evacuations throughout Southern California.

“A red flag warning, which means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly, are in effect in Hanford, Oxnard and San Diego, according to the National Weather Service.,” DiBlasio added. “Flames have charred more than 15 square miles and caused more than $20 million in damage, burning at least eight houses, an 18-unit apartment complex and two businesses.”

ORIGINAL: May 16, 2014 (5:00AM CDT)

Thousands of Southern California residents were forced to flee their homes and San Diego County remained under a state of emergency Thursday as wildfires continued to ravage the region, according to various media reports.

As of Thursday morning, county officials told Hasani Gittens and Joe Fryer of NBC News that a total of nine fires were burning across a 14 square mile area. The newest blaze broke out late Wednesday afternoon in San Marcos, and resulted in evacuation notices being sent to approximately 21,000 residents there, they added.

That fire has already grown to 700 acres in size as of 2:15am local time, and was zero percent contained, Gittens and Fryer reported. Three homes were confirmed to be destroyed, and the California State University San Marcos campus had to be closed down as the 10,000 students enrolled there were in the midst of taking final exams.

“Relief is on the way, but it will be slow,” explained senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. “Friday, the Santa Ana winds will finally cease, but it will remain quite warm. This weekend, however, onshore winds will bring temperatures back to mid-May averages, with 70s along the coast, along with higher humidity, morning low clouds and fog.”

In the meantime, firefighters continue to battle the wildfires. An intense blaze in the San Diego suburb of Carlsbad was 50 percent contained as of early Thursday morning. City government officials told that eight homes, an eight-unit apartment complex and two businesses had been damaged, and a power outage forced the Legoland California amusement park to close.

In addition, roughly 6,000 acres near the Camp Pendleton marine base was ablaze. The so-called Tomahawk Fire was 20 percent contained, according to reports. The 600-acre Miguelito Fire was said to be 80 percent contained as of Thursday morning, the 1,550-acre Bernardo Fire was 50 percent contained, and the 600-acre Highway Fire was just five percent contained in temperatures that were nearing 100 degrees.

According to, Fallbrook, Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School and Camp Pendleton's De Luz were evacuated, and about a dozen “non-essential employees” were evacuated from the San Onofre nuclear power plant as the fires moved closer to the facility. In addition, the San Diego Unified School District and 21 smaller school districts in the county cancelled classes on Thursday.

San Diego Fire Chief Javier Mainar told NBC News that it was “pretty amazing” to see fires this fierce in May, and that he believed it could well be a bad omen for how the rest of the season will go. He noted that the wildfires were a clear sign of “the impact of climate change.”

“My understanding from Cal Fire is that we've seen twice the number of wildfire starts in the state of California as we typically see this time of year,” he said, and when asked if he was nervous, he added that he was “perpetually nervous… We live in a fire-prone environment here, but when things are this dry, and the humidity is this low, and the winds are blowing as we see here today, were very, very concerned.”