Wildfires burn almost 10,000 acres in California's San Diego Cou - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wildfires burn almost 10,000 acres in California's San Diego County

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Carlsbad, California (CNN) -- In her 42 years of living in Southern California, Sophie Payne of Carlsbad has "never, never, never" witnessed so many wildfires at one time.

Three dozen raged overnight. Eight of them continued to burn Thursday in a patchwork across of San Diego County, ravaging 10,000 acres since Tuesday. Payne's hilltop house was an exhibit of their destruction: It was burned to the ground, except for a stone archway and several walls.
"This is my dream house, and what can I say," she said, looking at the destruction to the three-bedroom, four-bathroom house. "Now it's all gone."
Payne found some family keepsakes in a small safe, and while intact, the papers were charred at the edges. "It's just falling apart," Payne said.
Gay Walker was evacuated from her home in nearby Encinitas and doubted she would even be allowed to return by Friday. Police told her to evacuate immediately.

"It was an orderly evacuation, but it was reminiscent of something apocalyptic," Walker said.
In San Marcos, county officials said an intense wildfire was sucking so much oxygen that it was creating its own weather system, and the city's fire chief, Brett Van Wey, said 5,000 homes remained evacuated Thursday.

"They are skirting subdivisions, and we are just doing our best to kind of guide it along through the path of least resistance," Van Wey said of the wildfire.
The city was "fortunate" to have lost only three homes and had one damaged, he said.

The 2,600 firefighters working throughout San Diego County were bracing for their hardest slog of the day -- the early and late afternoon.
"We call that the witching hour," said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott.

That's when wildfires pick up their intensity, he said. In fact, temperatures reached into the 90s, and a new wildfire ignited near the Las Pulgas gate on the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton, prompting more evacuations, Pimlott said. That fire burned 25 acres, a relatively small size compared to the base's other fire on 6,000 acres -- or 9.3 square miles -- the military said.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, about 15,000 residents were being evacuated in the city of Escondido, whose population is 146,000, according to Escondido Community Relations Manager Joyce Masterson.

Residents were being directed to Escondido High School or Mission Hills High School in nearby San Marcos.
The evacuation zone included a 12-story hospital, Palomar Medical Center West, but that facility wasn't evacuated because it has a "shelter in place," Masterson said.

The fire department was "in place to do everything possible to protect the hospital," she said. "It's just logistically hard to transport that many patients in a short period of time. The hospital is along the foothills and about three miles away from the fire."

Gov. Jerry Brown cited climate change as "a factor" in the spate of wildfires.

"The last three years have the driest in California's recorded history," Brown said.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the fires Thursday, and the administration has supplied large air tankers and hotshot crews of firefighters to battle the flames, a senior official told CNN.

Thirteen school districts in San Diego County will be closed on Friday because of the wildfires, the San Diego Office of Education said.

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