May 2014 San Diego County wildfires
|May 2014 San Diego County wildfires|
Satellite image of several of the wildfires in San Diego County on May 14, 2014.
|Location||San Diego County, California|
|Cost||$60 million total (2014 USD)|
|Date(s)||May 5, 2014– May 22, 2014|
|Burned area||At least 26,001 acres (10,522 ha)|
|Cause||Arson, faulty construction equipment, etc.|
|Non-fatal injuries||At least 6|
The May 2014 San Diego County wildfires were a swarm of 20 wildfires that erupted during May 2014, in San Diego County, California, during severe Santa Ana Wind conditions, historic drought conditions, and a heat wave. The main event during mid-May was preceded by a precursor fire that ignited on May 5. The Bernardo Fire has been declared accidental, and officials believe the Cocos Fire was intentionally set. The causes of the other fires are still under investigation by multiple agencies, and a joint task force was formed to coordinate the investigations and facilitate communications. Six injuries and one fire-related fatality were reported.
At least eight major (named) fires were burning simultaneously at the height of the event, as well as several unnamed small brush fires. Smoke from the fires also prompted health advisories in parts of Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Multiple school districts, California State University at San Marcos, MiraCosta College, and Palomar College were forced to cancel classes and close schools for one or more days; CSUSM and Palomar also postponed or cancelled commencement exercises due to the fires. All evacuation orders were lifted by May 18, and all schools resumed classes on May 19.
The Cocos Fire was the last of the May 2014 wildfires to be extinguished, with full containment on May 22. By the time the last of the fires was extinguished, approximately 26,001 acres (105 km2) of land had burned and an estimated 65 structures had been destroyed. Damage estimates were still being compiled as of late May 2014, but the County estimated that the fires cost close to $60 million (2014 USD), including $29.8 million in destruction or damage to private property, and $27.9 million in the costs of firefighting, support, and environmental damage.
The May outbreak of fires occurred during a period of offshore flow throughout Southern California that meteorologist deemed highly unusual for the month of May. Beginning on May 11, the situation turned critical and red flag warnings went were issued across the region. By May 14, with the warnings still in effect, daytime temperatures were hovering around 100 °F (38 °C), with humidity below 10%.
On May 17, the Santa Ana Winds subsided and temperatures started to drop. On May 18, weather conditions had returned to seasonal norms, with lower temperatures around 80 °F (27 °C) and higher humidity.
|Name||Acres||Km2||Start Date||Containment Date||Notes||Ref|
|Jacumba||29||0.1||May 5, 2014||May 6, 2014|||
|Bernardo||1,548||6.3||May 13, 2014||May 17, 2014|||
|Tomahawk||5,367||21.7||May 14, 2014||May 19, 2014|||
|Poinsettia||600||2.4||May 14, 2014||May 17, 2014||28 structures destroyed|||
|Highway||380||1.5||May 14, 2014||May 15, 2014|||
|River||105||0.4||May 14, 2014||May 19, 2014|||
|Cocos||1,995||8.1||May 14, 2014||May 22, 2014||40 structures destroyed|||
|Freeway||56||0.2||May 14, 2014||May 20, 2014|||
|Aurora||17||0.1||May 14, 2014||May 14, 2014|||
|Pulgas||14,416||58.3||May 15, 2014||May 21, 2014|||
|San Mateo||1,457||5.9||May 16, 2014||May 20, 2014|||
|Sycamore||30||0.1||May 17, 2014||May 17, 2014|||
The Jacumba Fire was a precursor wildfire, which the preceded the main outbreak of wildfires that occurred a week later. At 4:36 PM PDT on May 5, the Jacumba Fire was reported off Interstate 8, east of McCain Valley Road. The fire expanded to a maximum of 29 acres (12 ha), before it was fully contained at 10:20 AM PDT on May 20.
The Bernardo Fire in 4S Ranch, near Rancho Bernardo, started on May 13, at 10:00 AM PDT, just south of Del Norte High School, in a construction trench off Nighthawk Lane. The fire burned 1,548 acres (6 km2), before it was ultimately brought under control on May 17. The cause of the fire was ruled to be accidental; authorities said that it started in a small trench being dug by a construction crew, with sparks from a backhoe trencher setting off the fire, which spread rapidly through the dry brush at the site.
The Tomahawk Fire was the second largest wildfire during the outbreak behind the Pulgas Fire. The fire, which started May 14 around 9:45 AM, on the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Detachment Fallbrook (also known as Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station), scorched 5,367 acres (21.72 km2). The Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station is on the eastern side of, and provides an entry point to, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and is adjacent to the community of Fallbrook.
The Poinsettia Fire was the second most destructive of the San Diego County wildfires. It caused property damage estimated at $22.5 million, as well as the only reported fatality in the San Diego County series of wildfires. As of July 10, 2014, the cause of the fire is listed as "undetermined", which allows for further investigation if more information comes to light.
The Highway Fire near Bonsall and Fallbrook, started at 1 PM on May 14, near Interstate 15 and California State Route 76. Several schools and about 600 residents were evacuated. By 6 PM PDT on May 15, the fire was 100% contained, after reaching a size of 441 acres (178 ha). Authorities reported around $1.1 million in damage and a total area of 441 acres (178 ha).
The River Fire broke out at 1:30 PM on May 14, in Oceanside, starting in the San Luis Rey River riverbed. Homes and an elementary school in the area were evacuated. The Oceanside Unified School District said that all schools would be closed on May 15. On May 16, it was reported that the River Fire was 100% contained, after it had burned 105 acres (42 ha) of land, confined to the river bed. A man was arrested on May 15 and charged with arson, after witnesses saw him adding brush to the flames, but authorities do not believe he actually started the fire.
The Cocos Fire, previously known as the Twin Oaks Fire, was a wildfire that ignited on May 14 in San Marcos, in the hills south of California State University, San Marcos. The Cocos Fire quickly spread into western Escondido. The fire destroyed more than 40 buildings, including a dozen single-family homes. Property damage from the fire is estimated at more than $5.7 million. Three minor injuries were reported. The Cocos Fire was finally extinguished on May 22, 2014.
Another wildfire, the Freeway Fire also started at the Naval Weapons Station area of Camp Pendleton. It was first reported at 5:43 PM on May 14. On May 16, the fire was 100% contained, after it had burned 56 acres (23 ha).
On May 14, at about 5:20 PM PDT, the Aurora Fire broke out near Interstate 8-Business and Aurora Drive, in Lakeside, prompting evacuation orders for the area around the fire. At around 7:40 PM PDT on the same day, the fire was 100% contained after it had reached a size of 17 acres (6.9 ha), and all evacuation orders in the area were lifted.
At 2:45 PM PDT on May 15, the Pulgas Fire broke out at Camp Pendleton near Interstate 5 at Las Pulgas Road, to the north of Oceanside. The fire quickly burned 500 acres (200 ha) acres within the next couple of hours. It became the largest of the fires in May 2014, scorching a total of 14,416 acres (5,834 ha) of land, before it was fully contained on May 21.
San Mateo Fire
At around 11:24 PM PDT on May 16, Camp Pendleton reported a third wildfire on base. The fire was initially called the Talega Fire and later the Combat Fire by CAL FIRE, before finally being renamed to the San Mateo Fire. The fire started near the Camp Talega area of the base, near Basilone Road. By the mid-afternoon of May 16, the fire had burned about 25 acres (10 ha) and all non-essential personnel were ordered to be sent home. Evacuation orders were given to personnel in nearby areas of the base including some housing facilities and a school. The San Mateo fire ended up burning a total of 1,457 acres (5.90 km2) of land. Late on May 20, the San Mateo Fire was reported to be 100% contained.
An unnamed small brushfire started in the backyard of a home on Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido, at about 2 PM PDT on May 14. Homes were threatened, and the evacuations some of homes and businesses were ordered in the area of Bear Valley Parkway and Oak Hill. The fire destroyed one outbuilding and several vehicles. Fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze by 2:45 PM, after it had burned a total of 1 acre (0.40 ha) of land.
On May 14, another small brush fire broke out in Escondido on the corner of El Norte Parkway and Nordahl Rd, which was also quickly extinguished.
On May 15, two teenagers were arrested and charged with arson for attempting to ignite two small brush fires, both of which were extinguished within minutes. Police had no evidence linking them to any of the actual major wildfires, and ultimately, no charges were filed against the suspects.
At 8:00 AM PDT on May 17, a brush fire was reported in a canyon area northwest of Santee Lakes, called the Sycamore Fire. It burned about 30 acres (12 ha) in an unpopulated area of West Sycamore Canyon, near the eastern edge of MCAS Miramar. Several hours later, the fire was 100% contained.
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- List of California wildfires
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