Mop-up starts on San Diego County fires as weather cools

As seen on LATimes:

Firefighters began mop-up operations Saturday on the Cocos fire in San Marcos that destroyed up to 12 homes this week and numerous buildings at a spiritual retreat center, Cal Fire officials said.

Even as it fought several large blazes in San Diego County, Cal Fire was called to smaller ones, like a 30-acre fire that erupted Saturday near Sycamore Canyon north of the Santee Lakes area. The blaze was controlled before it could imperil structures.

No other structures were reported as being destroyed by the Cocos’ fire, which burned 2,520 acres and was considered 70% contained.

More than 1,200 firefighters backed by two water-dropping helicopters continued to battle the fire Saturday, helped by lower temperatures and winds.

“Cocos fire activity is limited to smoldering [spots] within the fire perimeter,” said Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser.

The Cocos’ fire was one of two that destroyed homes during the spate of fires that struck northern San Diego County starting Tuesday.

The other, the Poinsettia fire in Carlsbad, destroyed eight homes and a 19-unit apartment building but was no longer threatening structures, officials said.

Progress toward containment was also being made against the region’s two largest fires: the 15,000-acre Pulgas fire at Camp Pendleton, listed as 25% contained, and the 6,500-acre Tomahawk fire at the adjacent Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, listed as 75% contained.

The 1,000-acre San Mateo fire at Camp Pendleton was listed as 25% contained.

No structures were lost due to the fires at the military bases. Some evacuation orders for family housing and barracks have been lifted.

Most evacuation orders for the Cocos fire have been lifted. But some residents have complained that it took too long for authorities to issue the all-clear. Officials say evacuated areas need to be checked for downed power lines and other dangers before residents return.

San Marcos officials issued a message through social media: “We understand residents are anxious to return home but safety is our highest priority, your continued patience is appreciated.”

And for homeowners returning to survey the damage to their property and neighborhood, the FBI has a warning: Beware of “disaster fraud” scamsters.

The five main forms of such scam, the FBI said, are charitable solicitations, price gouging, contractor and vendor fraud, forgery and property insurance fraud.