Story at a glance

  • Fire officials say the Creek Fire started just after 11 p.m. Wednesday and was fueled by Santa Ana winds.
  • More than 7,000 residents were forced to evacuate the area.
  • The fire has burned through 3,000 acres and is 35 percent contained.

A wildfire burning on and around Camp Pendleton military base in San Diego County, Calif., forced thousands of people to evacuate the area early Christmas Eve, according to Cal Fire

Fire officials say the Creek Fire started just after 11 p.m. Wednesday and was fueled by Santa Ana winds with gusts of up to 35 miles per hour. By 1 a.m. Thursday, the blaze forced evacuations of housing areas on the 195-square-mile military base between San Diego and Los Angeles. 


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Evacuation orders were later expanded to areas just outside of the base, and at least 7,000 residents were under evacuation orders Thursday morning. 

The fire has burned through 3,000 acres and is 35 percent contained. The southwestern part of California is under a red flag warning until noon Thursday. Winds are expected to continue through the afternoon before subsiding Thursday evening. 

San Diego Gas & Electric preemptively cut power to 6,797 customers to prevent equipment from sparking fires during such weather conditions, while 24,725 customers could potentially be affected. Southern California Edison shut off power to more than 17,000 customers and another 150,000 are under consideration. 

The blaze comes as California has had its worst wildfire season on record. More than 4.1 million acres have burned in California this year, double the previous record of 2 million acres set in 2018. Five of California’s largest wildfires in history occurred this year alone. 

The unprecedented fire season in the western United States has been driven by record-high temperatures and worsening droughts linked to climate change. Hotter and drier conditions make forests and brush more flammable, fueling more intense and devastating fires.


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Published on Dec 24, 2020