Multiple fires threaten San Diego area in early start to season

Bernardo Fire Unbelievably Close to Homes

Homeowners and residents rushed to grab what they could once they were evacuated by the Bernardo Fire in San Diego's North County

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A compilation of the video shot by NBC 7 photojournalists covering the Bernardo Fire on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. (Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    Word spread quickly by phone, social media and text as a brush fire jumped around in erratic winds, scorching more than a thousand acres in San Diego's North County.

    Those residents, an estimated 5,000 homes, who were notified about the Bernardo Fire Tuesday afternoon praised the efforts of firefighters in controlling the brush fire that winded its way through canyons and burned just feet from backyards and buildings.

    Be Alert: Firefighters to San Diego Residents

    [DGO] Be Alert: Firefighters to San Diego Residents
    NBC 7's Sherene Tagharobi reports from the command post of the Bernardo Fire, talking with firefighters about the day ahead of them as they battle the fire that scorched 1550 acres. (Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    “Anybody who comes out here and drives around Santaluz to see how close it got to homes, it’s unbelievable,” said Santaluz resident Kara Hansen.

    Firefighters Battle Flames in Santaluz

    [DGO] Firefighters Battle Flames in Santaluz at Bernardo Fire
    NBC 7's Omari Fleming gives a recap of the first day of the Bernardo Fire, a 1500-acre blaze that threatened homes in San Diego's North County. (Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    She was getting her hair done when she got a phone call telling her about the fire.

    WATCH: Area Scorched by Bernardo Fire

    [DGO] WATCH: Area Scorched by Bernardo Fire
    This video clip from NBC 7 News Chopper shows the area scorched by the Bernardo Fire. (Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    Moments after she got to her home, she was able to grab only the family’s passports and two dogs before she heard police on a loudspeaker telling residents to get out of the area.

    When she saw thick, dark smoke she thought, “It’s time to get outta here.”

    Her 8-year-old son, Jakob, a Willow Grove elementary student, was evacuated by school officials so that added more anxiety for her.

    “The biggest concern was finding him,” she said.

    On Wednesday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer warned residents to be vigilant.

    "Obviously the battle isn’t over. We have crews out there that have worked all night and will continue to work all day. We urge everyone to be vigilante. We have a very windy day ahead of us," Faulconer said.

    Ben Ma was hosing down the property near his home under construction Tuesday.

    He saw the flames from a security camera and rushed to protect the house in Santaluz.

    “All of a sudden it moved pretty fast. Next thing you know, we got evacuated. Yeah, it was pretty close,” Ma said as he worked to keep embers at bay.

    Fire crews successfully fought back the flames and quickly moved on to the next area threatened

    Business owner Jeff Guenzburger heard about the flames from a text and social media.

    “Obviously the first thought: your family, your loved ones, that’s the first phone calls you make,” he said.

    By the time he made it to the Santaluz home where he lives, he just missed the flames passing by.

    “You don’t realize actually how close it is until you get here and see that it’s actually across the street, right in your backyard and kind of a light goes on and ‘Wow, it really was that close,’” he said.

    On Wednesday, deputies said they made 22,000 contacts through alerts Tuesday that included sending warnings to residents' email, text messages to cell phones and automated calls to land-line phones.

    Of those, 5,000 contacts numbers and emails were in the county and 17,000 were in the San Diego city area.

    Not all those contacted were evacuated, officials explained.

    San Diego County was under a red flag warning and a high wind warning Wednesday with gusts in the 20 mph range with possible gusts reaching 50 mph around noon.