US & Canada

California wildfires in San Diego force evacuations

Media captionMore than 20,000 homes have been evacuated in the suburbs of San Diego

Wildfires continue to rage in southern California on a second day, as thousands of people in San Diego county are forced to flee their homes.

A major fire engulfed the coastal town of Carlsbad, north of San Diego, scorching several buildings and forcing an amusement park to close.

Further north, blazes also caused evacuations at a nuclear plant and a military base.

Months of drought have made California particularly prone to fires this year.

Media captionA dramatic "firenado" spawned by one of the wildfires ravaging southern California was caught on camera on Wednesday

The state, and other areas on the US west coast, often experience wildfires over the warmer months.

No major injuries were reported but at least one firefighter has been slightly injured.

Image caption A water bomber flew over a hillside in San Marcos, California
Image caption Evacuation advisories remained in effect on Thursday as firefighters fought to contain the blaze
Image caption San Diego Sherriff's deputies watched fire crews battle a blaze in San Marcos
Image caption A military helicopter dropped water on the spreading wildfire
Image caption Firefighters are battling blazes in San Diego County in California
Image caption Homes in San Marcos and Carlsbad were affected, with 20,000 people ordered to evacuate
Image caption At least one firefighter suffered slight injuries, but no deaths have been reported so far

Nine fires raged across San Diego county on Tuesday and Wednesday burning more than 14 sq miles (36 sq km).

Four air tankers and 22 military helicopters were employed fighting the fires.

Officials have ordered at least 20,000 people to leave their homes.

In Carlsbad, a condominium complex and four residences were destroyed.

'Tinder dry'

The Legoland theme park in Carlsbad was closed due to power surges, while San Onofre nuclear power plant briefly evacuated non-essential staff as a precautionary measure.

And the campus of California State University-San Marcos, with almost 10,000 students, has been shut down amid the university's final exams, with all commencement ceremonies cancelled.

Fires also hit the military base at Camp Pendleton, between San Diego and Los Angeles.

Carlsbad fire chief Michael Davies said such fires were unprecedented this time of year.

"This is May, this is unbelievable. This is something we should see in October," he said.

Officials say tinder-dry conditions following many months of drought - coupled with the winds and high temperatures - have left parts of the region highly combustible.

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