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Thousands flee Southern California wildfires, university evacuated

Wildfires roared out of control in Southern California, forcing authorities in San Diego county on Wednesday to order thousands of people to abandon their homes, including students at a state university, though no major injuries were reported.
Television images showed several homes in flames, with thick black smoke filling the sky and drifting over the Pacific Ocean, as California entered the height of wildfire season in the midst of one of the state’s worst droughts on record.
One fire, which erupted shortly before 11 a.m. in Carlsbad, some 25 miles north of San Diego, quickly became the most pressing battle for crews fighting flames across the region amid soaring temperatures and hot Santa Ana winds.
In Carlsbad at least eight residences, one apartment building, and two businesses burned to the ground. A state university was evacuated in nearby San Marcos amid other evacuation notices.
Officials told a news conference that nine fires had burned more than 9,000 acres in the county by late Wednesday.
Another fire, called the Tomahawk, broke out on the Camp Pendleton Marine Base north of San Diego and had charred roughly 6,000 acres by Wednesday evening, prompting evacuation of military housing and a naval weapons station.
Fire officials fear the drought could be provide the tinder for a particularly dangerous year for wildfires in the state.
Thousands of homes and businesses and cell phones in and around Carlsbad received directives to evacuate, according to the city authorities, and emergency shelters were set up at schools and community centers.
Authorities were growing increasingly concerned about a fresh blaze that broke out in the late afternoon in San Marcos, where thousands of residents and students at a California State University campus were ordered to leave.
“The fire was right above campus. I could see it reaching over part of the hill, this really dark smoke. It was almost like an explosion,” said 19-year-old Grant Rapoza, who was in his dorm room when the school issued evacuation notices.
California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to free up resources, saying he had secured a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help aid local firefighting efforts.

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