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California wildfires mostly contained as Gov. Brown warns of more

Gov. Jerry Brown says climate change is fueling prolonged fire danger: 'We've got to deal with it'
Crews mop up San Diego County fires that have scorched 27,000+ acres, destroyed dozens of structures

As crews continued to mop up brush fires in San Diego County that have scorched more than 27,000 acres, damage assessment teams are now busy at work as property owners take stock of their loses.

The Poinsettia fire in Carlsbad is 100% contained while the Cocos fire in San Marcos is at 87% containment but no longer advancing.

The three fires that burned 21,000 acres of Camp Pendleton and the adjacent Navy Weapons Station Fallbrook are quickly being contained, officials said. The San Mateo and Las Pulgas fires are now 75% and 97% contained, respectively. The Tomahawk fire is 100% contained, officials reported.

All military and civilian employees at Camp Pendleton were ordered to return to work. And Ammunition Road leading to the weapons station has been reopened. Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos visited the burned areas Sunday and praised the swift work of firefighters.

In addition to estimating the damage done by the fires, investigators continue to probe their causes. Of the 10 major blazes that struck the region, a cause has only been determined for the first: the Bernardo fire that erupted Tuesday near Rancho Bernardo was caused by sparks from a backhoe during a construction project.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown over the weekend sounded the alarm over what could turn out to be California's worst fire season.

Brown repeated his belief that this spring's fire season has been worsened by climate change brought on by human activity.

"We've got to deal with it," he said. "We've already appropriated $600 million. We have 5,000 firefighters. We're going to need thousands more. And in the years to come, we're going to have to make very expensive investments and adjust. And the people are going to have to be careful of how they live, how they build their homes and what kind of vegetation is allowed to grow around them."

He told CNN host Candy Crowley that California's fire season is now more than two months longer than it was a decade ago, and that fire crews must be activated year-round instead of seasonally.

On ABC, Brown warned that forces were changing the way Californians must live.

"We're going to deal with nature as best we can," he said, "but humanity is on a collision course with nature."

Those forces collided with devastating effect last week in San Diego County, where the series of wildfires destroyed dozens of homes and other structures.

At the height of the fires last week more than 5,000 firefighters from Cal Fire and local and federal agencies were fighting nearly a dozen wildfires being pushed by strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity.

Brown said on ABC that California was working to do more than just protect itself from the inevitable spread of brush fires, citing steps to reduce greenhouse gases "in a way that I think exceeds any other state in the country. And we'll do more.

"In the meantime, all we can do is fight all these damn fires."

St. John reported from Sacramento, Perry from San Diego.


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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