San Diego Fires Wreak Havoc

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On The Ground, And In The Air

Sunday, Southern California wildfires merged into a miles-long conflagration in the suburbs of San Diego. By early evening yesterday, 11 people were dead, 650 homes were lost, the FAA's Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control center at MCAS Miramar had been evacuated, and San Bernardino International Airport had become a shelter for more than a thousand area residents. One small plane attempting to land at Montgomery Field "missed the runway due to the smoke, cartwheeling across Highway 163 south of Balboa Avenue shortly after 2 p.m.," officer Phil Konstantin of the California Highway Patrol told SignOnSanDiego.com. Aircraft flying into San Diego's Lindbergh Field and other Southern California airports were held at their departure airports due to the control center closure. Southwest Airlines alone cancelled 152 flights. The "small plane" (no official information regarding type was yet available) caught fire in the crash and was destroyed. The pilot and sole occupant extricated himself and was taken by ambulance for treatment at a local hospital. Fire officials have told local media that only two air tankers had so far been made available for the fight and they were both under-equipped and understaffed to deal with the scope of the conflagration. The fires had burned more than 254,000 acres by Sunday night.