Cocos Fire now over 3,000 acres, 10% containment

SAN MARCOS (CNS) – A wildfire raging in the San Marcos area grew from 1,200 acres to 3,018 acres overnight, the San Marcos Fire Department reported Friday morning.

But even though the Cocos Fire more than doubled in size, crews aided by cooler temperatures and a diminution of wind speeds increased containment of the fire from 5 percent Thursday night to 10 percent this morning, a department spokesman said.

Thousands of residents were allowed back in their homes shortly after midnight as firefighters pressed their struggle against the fire that has destroyed several homes in the San Marcos area since Wednesday.

Even more evacuations were lifted Friday morning as people who evacuated the Lake San Marcos area, including areas south of State Route 78 and west of Via Vera Cruz, were allowed to return to their homes.

According to Cal Fire, 1,000 firefighters were assigned to the blaze. The fire started near Cocos Drive around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday during red flag conditions that included strong Santa Ana winds, record-high triple-digit temperatures and extremely dry ground cover.

The cause was under investigation.

The sheriff’s department lifted its evacuation orders at around 12:15 this morning for around 3,000 residents who live south of Highway 78 and west of Via Vera Cruz, including the community of Lake San Marcos. A half-hour later, the sheriff’s department advised that about 1,600 residents who live in the Del Dios Corridor and Mt. Israel areas may also return to their homes.

Since the Cocos Fire broke out, nearly 76,000 alerts have been sent to residents. The total includes texts, emails and phones calls made to residents, and does not translate into nearly 76,000 people being evacuated because many residents receive alerts in all three forms of communication, county officials have said.

For those still under evacuation orders this morning, an emergency shelter remained open at Mission Hills High School at 1 Mission Hills Court in San Marcos.

The Cocos Fire was one of nearly a dozen major brush fires to break out in the county since Tuesday. On Thursday morning, as other fires died down, authorities dubbed the Cocos Fire their No. 1 priority, vowing to fight it by ground and air with help from Cal Fire air tankers and military helicopters.

By Thursday afternoon, the fire took off, forcing evacuations into southeastern Escondido, which borders San Marcos.

Cal Fire reported that at least three structures have been destroyed and one other damaged by the fire. However, the official count is expected to go up once the fire is better contained and authorities can better access the damage.

Cal State San Marcos was evacuated in the hours after the fire started Wednesday. The campus will remain closed through today and this weekend’s commencement ceremonies have been rescheduled, according to university officials.

Officials at Palomar Medical Center, which sits in southeast Escondido, were ordered to shelter in place Thursday. Today, all Palomar Pomerado Health facilities are open as usual.

Categories: KUSI