www.sandiego.gov Gives Details Of Affected Homes In California Wildfires

San Diego City Councilman Brian Maienschein is walking neighborhoods and helping compile a list of homes that have been destroyed or badly damaged. He said officials will post the list on the city's Web site soon, www.sandiego.gov.

It is estimated that more than a half million people had been ordered from San Diego County homes Tuesday as wildfires rage from the Mexican border to north of Los Angeles.

Across Southern California, more than 1,300 homes had been reduced to ashes, officials said Tuesday.

About 1,000 homes have been destroyed in San Diego County alone.

A second civilian has died in the wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday afternoon. It provided no details.

Fears grew north of Los Angeles that the winds may fan three wildfires into one monster blaze, with too little resources available to fight it.

Those fires threaten more than 56,000 homes.

In San Diego County, at least 513,000 residents had been ordered to find refuge in shelters, schools and stadiums as fires pushed into new areas Tuesday.

A spokesman for the county's emergency effort told Sacramento TV station KCRA that the evacuations amount to "a mass migration."

New evacuation orders are being added frequently to the San Diego Office of Emergency Services Web site.

"People are worried," he said. "They just want to know, even if their homes are destroyed."

And officials said the crisis is far from over.

"It will not end ... until it reaches the ocean or the winds turn around," San Diego Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Cartelli said Tuesday.

Firefighters expected no break from the winds fueling the fires until midday Thursday, said Harvey Johnson, deputy administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At least 17 wildfires have scorched about 425 square miles from north of Los Angeles to southeast of San Diego since the weekend. Three of those fires were added to the list Tuesday.

The U.S. Navy ordered sailors out of barracks and onto ships to make room for evacuees.

In an e-mail to CNN, Jonathan Gallen, a doctor in Poway, described how the fires quickly closed in on his neighborhood Monday.

"My pool was completely black with soot. Like the 'Creature From the Black Lagoon' was about to walk out of there," Gallen wrote. "The soot was falling so heavily that it blocked out the sun. There was a smoke cloud above our home that seemed to stretch for miles. This was bad."

National Guard troops were posted at Qualcomm Stadium, home to the NFL's San Diego Chargers, as it became a temporary home to 10,000 fire evacuees, many whose eyes were red -- a combination of fatigue and irritation from smoke. Volunteers tried to keep spirits up by handing out chairs, cots, food and water.

Among the volunteers was Tony Bradley, a restaurant worker by night and a magician by day. He strode through the crowd captivating youngsters by twisting balloons into the shapes of animals. "That's what I'm here for, just to make them happy, make them forget about what's going on," he said.

Five of San Diego's 23 emergency shelters reached capacity Monday evening.

Sean McGough and his family fled their home in El Cajon for Qualcomm early Tuesday as the flames arrived.

"I looked out and saw the mountain engulfed in flames with a trail at least three miles long coming down," McGough said.

"When I went to bed at midnight, nothing in the East County was any immediate threat. ... Two hours later is when we got the news we needed to get out of our homes."

Anticipating more arrivals at the stadium, the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered 25,000 cots early Tuesday afternoon.

President Bush issued an emergency declaration Tuesday for seven California counties, clearing the way for federal disaster relief. The president will visit the area Thursday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Emergency officials asked for food and water for evacuees and told those still in their homes to cut electrical use so the power grid is not strained.

The Witch Fire consumed 164,000 acres, 500 homes and 100 commercial buildings between Sunday afternoon and early Tuesday, moving on a fast 20-mile westward path from its origins near Ramona into the more populated San Diego city limits and across Interstate 15. The Pacific coast was barely five miles west of the fire line early Tuesday.

"It's probably the worst this county has ever had, well in excess of the Cedar Fire. ... It looks like it's going to get worse, and we want everybody to be prepared and understand," San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender said.

Bush's declaration covers the same seven counties that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cited Monday: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

The U.S. Marines' Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, told only "key and essential personnel" to report to duty Tuesday. The Rice Fire is burning east of the base. At about 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET), there were two fires burning on the property of Camp Pendleton.

Residents of Fallbrook, adjacent to Camp Pendleton, evacuated as the Rice Fire burned 1,500 acres and destroyed 50 homes and damaged 30 more in nearby Rice Canyon.

A "major natural gas line leading into" Fallbrook was ruptured Tuesday afternoon and is on fire, according to the California Highway Patrol Web site.

Southeast of San Diego, the Harris Fire burned 25,000 acres. The blaze claimed the only life lost so far on Sunday and injured 17 civilians and five firefighters.

Officials said they're concerned about the fire spreading to San Miguel Mountain, the site of important communications towers.

Early Tuesday, a new fire was reported on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, northeast of Escondido, according to a state fire report monitored by the San Diego Union-Tribune. The fire has destroyed 40 houses, and people were being evacuated to the nearby Palomar Observatory, the report said.

In northern Los Angeles County, three fires have charred nearly 93,000 acres, and fire officials said they fear the Ranch, Buckweed and Magic fires could merge.

"We want to keep these fires as small as we can," said Capt. Barry Parker of the Ventura County Fire Department. If they come together, he said, "the only good thing is we would be able to share more resources."

He added, "But we would rather keep the fires individually fought."

The 54,000-acre Ranch Fire grew by nearly 20,000 acres overnight and is two miles away from the 1,200-acre Magic Fire. The blazes are straddling the line between Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Parker said he wasn't sure if they had enough resources.

"We're using a limited amount of resources to go in and fight these fires," he said. "We've got about 600 people on the Ranch Fire; we normally would have about 1,500.

"So we have to be absolutely surgical in how we plan and how we tactically use our fire equipment because we just simply don't have enough fire engines in the state of California to battle these blazes."

Two fires that erupted Monday in San Bernardino County near Lake Arrowhead have destroyed at least 123 structures and charred 1,800 acres, said Loretta Benavidez, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino National Forest. Several communities in the area, including Green Valley Lake, Arrowbear and Running Springs, were evacuated.

Aerial views of the Lake Arrowhead fires showed more homes burning there Tuesday.

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