It may be a little hard to grasp the extent of the area that’s currently burning and the damage being done. Consider a few particulars:
1. By this evening, it’s expected that Qualcomm Stadium (the Chargers home field) may house up to 100,000 evacuees, most of whom will have to be there for several days. Although circumstances are pretty different, that’s still 80,000 more evacuees than filled the Superdome during Katrina. Of course, this fire hasn’t been attended by the overall breakdown of government services and communication that characterized Katrina.
2. There are currently separate fires burning toward the ocean east of Solana Beach/Del Mar and Chula Vista. In contrast to the areas that have burned so far, which are typically low-density rural areas and some more remote housing developments, Solana Beach/Del Mar and Chula Vista are extremely densely populated areas. Imagine if a wildfire were headed for Lincoln Park in Chicago. Scary, eh?
3. The weather conditions make it virtually impossible for firefighters to do anything, other than try and keep individual houses from burning. At this point, we still don’t have good estimates on how many houses have burned, but it seems as if the answer is already in the 100s. Because of the wind speeds, embers can be picked up from one fire site and carried over a quarter of a mile in less than 30 seconds; this explains the leapfrog pattern of homes that are on fire at this point. What’s even scarier is the fact that these fires are not being started by the front line of the fires, which themselves are heading toward the coast.