San Diego (CA) (AP) — A wildfire that surged amid high heat and dry winds in drought conditions brought evacuation orders for more than 20,000 homes in and around San Diego, but all residents were told they could return home Tuesday night just a few hours later as cooler, calmer darkness fell.
Another fire 250 miles to the north in Santa Barbara County was also lying down after dark. All but a handful of the evacuation orders that had affected some 1,200 homes and businesses earlier in the day were called off. No damaged homes or injuries were reported in either fire.
However, the rugged terrain and unseasonably warm temperatures made firefighting difficult, creating some scary moments.
The flames that erupted in the fire-prone Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego quickly grew to 700 acres, driven by hot, dry Santa Ana winds.
By late afternoon, the flames ripped through canyons to approach expensive homes and new subdivisions on the ridges. It spread to Rancho Santa Fe, one of the nation’s wealthiest communities, known for its multimillion-dollar homes, golfing and horseback riding.
Black and gray smoke billowed over northern San Diego, filled with whirling ash and embers that created small spot fires. Flames crept within yards of some homes before firefighters doused them.
On one road, people on bicycles and skateboards stopped to watch as a plane dumped water on flames a half-mile away. At least two high schools and three elementary schools were evacuated.
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