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Santa Ana Winds Rip Through San Diego Area, Causing Numerous Wildfires

Atlanta, GA 10/22/2007 09:13 PM GMT (WooEB)

At least one person has been killed and Santa Ana winds whipped more than a dozen wildfires in Southern California, destroying several landmarks. The fatality occurred in San Diego County in one of a series of wildfires that burned from Santa Barbara to the Mexico border, as the region suffered through record-setting drought.


The Witch Fire merged overnight with another blaze that broke out when a transformer exploded near state Route 78 and Bandy Canyon Road, four miles east of Wild Animal Park.


An evacuation order came later for San Pasqual Valley between Ramona and Escondido. There had been earlier evacuations from north and south of Ramona, including San Diego Country Estates and along Old Julian Highway.


The Witch fire consumed at least 8,000 acres and sent flames more than 100 feet into the air.  Roads out of the town were jammed as people sought safety after authorities contacted 10,000 households by phone. Ramona's population is 36,000.


Fire investigators suspect downed power lines ignited the fire, named after the Witch Creek area where it started west of Santa Ysabel. Pushed by wind gusts of up to 60 mph, the fire roared westward throughout the day.


The Harris fire has charred over 14,000 acres and continued to move west through the night.


New fires had popped up near Cal State University, San Marcos, in Fallbrook, Descanso Valley and in the Cleveland National Forest near Eagle Peak.


The fire by Cal State University-San Marcos, known as the Coronado Hills fire for the area it is located in, has burned 300 acres between the campus and San Elijo Hills. 700 students at the university have been evacuated.


The Descanso fire, which broke out near Interstate 8, also burned about 200 acres, according to county officials.


The fire near Eagle Peak burned about 60 acres.


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