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California fires: 10 large-scale blazes rage; winds may decrease today

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Firefighters enter fourth day of battling blazes in northern San Diego County
With winds decreasing, firefighters hope to get control of blazes in San Diego County

Two brush fires on military bases in northern San Diego County have burned over 14,000 acres and aren't yet contained as the region enters its fourth day of being scorched by multiple blazes.

The Las Pulgas fire on Camp Pendleton has burned more than 8,000 acres, officials said, forcing evacuations and road closures. The Tomahawk fire at Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook adjacent to Camp Pendleton has burned more than 6,300 acres.

No structures have been destroyed in either fire, and the only reported injury was a firefighter treated for heat exhaustion.

Of the 10 large-scale fires burning in the region, structures have been reported lost in two: the Cocos fire in San Marcos and the Poinsettia fire in Carlsbad.

San Marcos homeowner James Harkins, surveying his neighborhood. called it "moonscape."

"There ain’t nothing here,” he said. “Just white ash and white ash and white ash.”

Firefighters hope their battle will be aided Friday by an expected decrease in the speed and erratic nature of the winds in the area as the Santa Anas dissipate.

The region's most "active" blaze remains the 1,200-acre Cocos fire, in which numerous homes in San Marcos and Escondido were destroyed as erratic winds sent flames in several directions.

More than 1,000 firefighters are assigned to the Cocos fire, with some coming from fighting other fires in the region.

Evacuation orders, meanwhile, have been lifted for the Poinsettia fire, in which several homes and a 22-unit apartment building were lost.

Evacuation orders were also lifted for Fallbrook which, for several hours, appeared imperiled by the Tomahawk fire.

Some evacuation orders remain in place for the Cocos fire. Several hundred people were at evacuation centers, as well as more than 80 dogs, cats and birds taken in by two shelters.

The Red Cross reported serving more than 3,400 meals to people forced to evacuate.

In Carlsbad, firefighters checking on hot spots reported finding a badly burned body in a scorched transient encampment. The medical examiner has yet to determine the identity or cause of death.

In Escondido, police late Thursday arrested two teenagers on suspicion of setting two small fires inside the city limits. The two attempted to flee on bicycles but were overtaken, officials said.

Also in Escondido, the Calvary Assembly Church was gutted by fire but officials said the blaze does not appear to be connected to the Cocos fire. The cause of the church fire is under investigation, and authorities said no arrests have been made in the matter.

Investigators are also continuing to probe the cause of the brush fires in the area.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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