Update: Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad burns 400 acres, 60 percent contained


-As of 5:30 a.m. May 15, the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad has burned 400 acres and is 60 percent contained. There is $22.5 million in damage from the fire, according to the initial structural damage assessment. Four single-family homes, an 18-unit apartment complex and two commercial structures in Carlsbad have been destroyed. Six other homes were damaged. No injuries or deaths have been reported.

By City News Service

Updated at 6:50 a.m. May 15

A 400-acre wind-driven brush fire that damaged or destroyed more than two dozen Carlsbad residences, downed power lines and forced thousands of evacuations was about 60 percent contained May 15.

The so-called Poinsettia Fire broke out for unknown reasons shortly after 10:30 a.m. May 14 near Poinsettia Lane and Alicante Road, just east of El Camino Real. Winds quickly pushed the flames about 400 acres and west toward neighborhoods and some high-tech businesses.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, in a morning news conference, asked people to keep roads as clear as possible for emergency personnel. He also thanked first responders, saying “although there was major structural damage done here in Carlsbad, we literally saved hundreds of homes.”

An 18-unit apartment complex and four single-family homes were destroyed on Wednesday, and a handful of other structures and vehicles were damaged, city officials said. The damage was estimated at $22.5 million.

Neighborhoods along Aviara Parkway and Black Rail Road sustained most of the damage, according to Cal Fire. No injuries were reported.

Carlsbad Fire Chief Michael Davis said 300 firefighters would be on the line today, up from 150 on Wednesday, and 50 Carlsbad police officers were expected to be assigned to the incident to protect evacuated homes from potential looting and to enforce road closures. Authorities initially issued 15,000 evacuation notices to residents west of El Fuerte Road, south of Palomar Airport Road and north of Aviara Parkway.

Among sites evacuated were Aviara Oaks elementary and middle schools, and

Poinsettia Elementary, according to Carlsbad Unified School District officials, who said students were not in danger.

The evacuation order was later lifted for those east of El Camino Real, south of Alga Road, on Aviara Parkway from Poinsettia to Ambrosia lanes, in areas south of Aviara Parkway, and on Black Rail and Nightshade roads, Tohee Lane, Cormorant Drive and Baccharis Avenue.

All hotels near the airport on Palomar Airport Road are also open, according to city officials.

Temporary shelters for the displaced were set up at Calavera Hills Community Center, 2997 Glasgow Drive, and at La Costa Canyon High School, 1 Maverick Way. Pets are only allowed at La Costa Canyon High.

City officials said both shelters were fully stocked and need neither donations nor additional volunteers.

“We’ve had many devastating events similar to this and we’ve had tragic events in this community and there’s one thing I know to be true about this community, (it) is that it always comes together and folks are always here to help each other out,” Davis said.

The fire was close to McClellan-Palomar Airport, but flight operations were not significantly affected Wednesday, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Aircraft were being directed around the smoke, he said.

Dove Library, Aviara Community Park and Alga Norte Community Park were closed, and Legoland California was evacuated as a safety precaution because of electrical power surges, officials said.

Fire-related road closures that remained in effect early today included Aviara Parkway from Ambrosia Lane to El Camino Real; El Camino Real from Alga to Palomar Airport Road; Camino Vide Robles from Palomar Airport Road to El Camino Real; Poinsettia Lane from Black Rail Road to El Camino Real; Palomar Oaks Way; and Cassia Road.

The blaze came amid a heat wave that was pushing temperatures well into the 90s along the coast. Winds, however, were not as strong as on May 13, when a wildfire charred 1,548 acres between 4S Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe.