Weary crews prepare for long wildfire season

ESCONDIDO, California - Firefighters are scouring charred hillsides north of San Diego to guard against a resurgence of flames that ripped through the region as the last of tens of thousands of evacuees prepared to return home.

For firefighters, the relief on Saturday was mixed with a sense that drought-stricken vegetation, high temperatures and low humidity portend a long fire season ahead.

Several fires spanning 39 square miles in San Diego County have destroyed 11 houses, an 18-unit apartment complex and two businesses. A dead body was found in a transient camp, and one firefighter suffered heat exhaustion.

Crews are focused on fires at Camp Pendleton Marine base and the suburb of San Marcos.

California's firefighting agency has responded to more than 1,500 fires this year, compared with about 800 during an average year.


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