Firefighters Battle Blazes - And Residents

On San Miguel Mountain in Spring Valley, Calif., Tuesday, Fire Captain Andy Menshek was all business.

"Leave the area immediately!" he said through a loudspeaker. "This is a mandatory evacuation. You are subject to arrest. Leave immediately!"

Admittedly undermanned in the face of a fire borne by capricious winds, Menshek and his exhausted crew were forced to confront both the flames and homeowners in a serious state of denial, CBS News national correspondent Dean Reynolds reports.

"What happens is they don't comply," he said. "Our firefighters are coming in to fight the fires and then they decide at the last minute to leave. It really compounds the firefighters' safety and their own safety."

This fire, together with at least three others around San Diego, intensified as the hours passed today, leaving more than a thousand homes and businesses incinerated in this area alone. At times, fire watching was something of a spectator sport with people gawking as flames consumed the hillsides. Back on San Miguel Mountain, Captain Menshek said there was no way to predict when the fire would burn itself out.

This fire, together with at least three others around San Diego, intensified as the hours passed today, leaving more than 1,000 homes and businesses incinerated

At times, fire-watching was something of a spectator sport, with people gawking as flames consumed the hillsides.

Back on San Miguel Mountain, Menshek said there was no way to predict when the fire would burn itself out.

"Just be careful; you make the call with your crews," he told another firefighter. "Crews first, houses second."

The flames there are of special interest to firefighters here because of their proximity to this house, where we're told there are several 55-gallon drums of racing fuel along with propane tanks.

And if they explode, the whole hilltop will become an inferno.

Closer to San Diego in Rancho Bernardo, residents were allowed a brief homecoming to retrieve essential medications left behind as they fled for their lives Monday.

One home Reynolds found was still standing, but the same cannot be said for the home of the neighbors.

"Our neighbor is a firefighter - and his home burned down," one woman said.

Amid thickening smoke, one man stood in line for hours for his inhaler - and a quick look back.

"I want to know what's left and what's not - if there is anything," he said.