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Carlsbad Brush Fire Damages 8 Homes, Forces Thousands Of Evacuations

CARLSBAD ( – At least eight single-family homes were damaged Wednesday and mandatory evacuation orders were in effect for thousands of residents due to a fast-growing brush fire in north San Diego County.

The roughly 250-acre Poinsettia Fire, which is currently ten percent contained, started just after 10:30 a.m. near Alicante Road and Poinsettia Lane.

PHOTOS: Poinsettia Fire Burns In Carlsbad

As of 11:30 p.m., approximately 15,000 evacuation notices had been issued, according to the city of Carlsbad.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall and Fire Chief Michael Davis said during a media briefing eight single-family homes, an apartment complex and two commercial structures were damaged or destroyed by the blaze.

Poinsettia Fire Media Briefing, May 14, 2014, 6:30 p.m. by CityofCarlsbadCA on YouTube

The Carlsbad fire was one of seven in San Diego County burning Wednesday evening, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in the county.

Greg Saska, who had lived in his Carlsbad home since 1967, said he watched everything he owned go up in flames.

"I heard from my roommate. He said, 'There's a fire close. We have to be careful,'" Saska told CBS2/KCAL9, adding of the aftermath: "I've got two cars in there burning - a Lincoln and a BMW - so I'm not happy at all."

Three schools meanwhile were evacuated, including Aviara Oaks Middle and Elementary schools, as well as Poinsettia Elementary. Officials say all students are safe. A spokesperson for the Carlsbad Unified School District said all CUSD schools will be closed Thursday and Friday. A full list of San Diego County school closures is available on the county's Office of Education website.

Legoland has also been evacuated as a precaution.

Palomar Airport, which lost power due to the fire, was operating on generators. Officials told CBS2/KCAL9 a commercial structure was on fire near the airport.

The city of Carlsbad said there was no disruption to water and sewer utilities.

Several water-dropping helicopters were assisting the firefight, but smoke could be seen for miles. Fire crews are also contending with triple-digit heat throughout the afternoon.

Many on- and off-ramps from Interstate 5 were closed and traffic was backed up for roughly seven miles along the freeway.

Evacuation orders in several areas of the city were lifted Wednesday evening, including in the area east of El Camino Real, south of Alga Road; Aviara Parkway from Poinsettia to Ambrosia; the area south of Aviara Parkway; and the following streets north of Aviara Parkway: Blackrail, Nightshade, Tohee, Cormorant and Baccharis.  Recommended routes are available via the city of Carlsbad website.

Evacuation shelters remained open at the Calavera Hills Community Center, located at 2997 Glasgow, and at La Costa Canyon High School, located at 1 Maverick Way. Small and domesticated animals are accepted at Calavera Hills Community Center only. Information regarding shelters housing large animals and livestock is available on the San Diego County Emergency website or via the county's Department of Animal Services dispatch line at 619-236-2341.

Crews were also fighting fires in El Cajon, Scripps Ranch, Bonsall, Oceanside, San Marcos and near Camp Pendleton Wednesday.

Authorities are treating the areas of each of the seven fires as a crime scene until they can prove they were not intentionally set.

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