Vista Fire Update As California Blaze Sparks Evacuations

A series of fires in Vista, California, sparked evacuation orders and shut down freeway lanes on Monday evening.

Small fires along Route 78 in Vista were reported just before 8.50 p.m. Monday night, prompting officials to close all westbound lanes of the freeway. It was initially thought that the eastbound lanes of the freeway would also be shut down, but they remained open.

As of around 11:30 p.m. local time on Monday night, all westbound Route 78 lanes reopened to traffic between Sycamore Avenue and Mar Vista Drive.

The fires were ablaze on the north side of Route 78 between Sycamore Avenue and Mar Vista Drive, just west of the North County Square shopping mall, as reported by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Lt. Mike Rand of San Diego Sheriff's Department told the media outlet that two apartment complexes were threatened and that deputies had ordered evacuations. Rand did not know exactly how many residents had to leave their homes. Although no buildings caught fire, two vehicles in a parking lot were burned.

FOX5 San Diego reported that the fires burned around three to four acres but that firefighters had stopped the spread. The fire had five separate starts but the cause of the blaze is not yet known.

In Northern California, the Lava Fire is burning in the community of Weed. It was caused by lightning and was first reported on Friday.

KOBI 5 reported that the Lava Fire was burning around 550 acres (nearly 1 square mile) on Sunday night, and was 20 percent contained. But the fire more than doubled in size overnight due to strong and erratic winds and was burning around 1,446 acres (more than 2 square miles) on Monday morning.

Locals were given evacuation notices on Monday morning which became orders by the afternoon. Highway 97 was closed in both directions 20 miles south of the Oregon-California border.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported that state officials say that California's drought and wildfire conditions are accelerating at unprecedented rates. Californians should get ready for a summer of widespread burning and mandatory water conservation measures in some regions, according to the outlet.

Southern California fire officials have warned that the current wildfire conditions are already similar to those typically seen in August and September.

Chief Brian Fennessy of the Orange County Fire Authority told the Los Angeles Times: "We're seeing fires move fast. Fires that normally would be an acre, 2 acres, 5 acres, so far this year are getting to 30, 50, and beyond.

"We are seeing fire spread that is even stunning many of us that have been doing this for a very long time—fire spread that could quite easily surprise many of the citizens within this region."

California Wildfire
Frefighting operations to battle the Kincade Fire in Healdsburg, California on October 26, 2019. A fire in Vista, California, has prompted road closures and evacuations. Philip Pacheco/AFP/Getty