RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. – "Go! Go! Go! Get out of here!"
A San Diego cop is yelling at people over the PA system in his police cruiser for people in this pricey northern suburb to leave as fast as possible. It's 4 a.m. here and a huge wall of flame is roaring in the hillside behind the houses. We're being pelted by burning embers as we take pictures of the people fleeing.
One woman tells me that she's packed very little, just her purse and some clothing and diapers for her baby, who slumbers peacefully in the kid seat belted behind her. The air is thick with smoke and ash; a good time to get out.
|SLIDESHOW: Furious wildfires|
There are seven fires burning in San Diego County, bringing back memories of the 2003 blazes that blackened a major portion of the area and burned hundreds of homes. Everyone fears a repeat this time.
Bad and getting worse
As our cameraman races down Interstate 15 with our tape, he phones us to report that he's stopped to get more pictures of houses burning along the side of the highway. Earlier, the community of Ramona in the hills northeast of San Diego was being evacuated but now the flames are in the city proper.
Normally, the calmest time for major woodland fires is the early morning hours, but the strong Santa Ana winds that are driving these fires just won't let up. Firefighters tell us that when the wind is roaring like this at more than 40 miles an hour, there's little they can do but to get out of the way
They're hoping that a break in the weather and some daylight will allow their aerial tanker planes and helicopters to get over the flames and beat them down somewhat. But the forecast calls for the nasty winds to continue, so the firefighters acknowledge that it's bad and not getting better.