The wildfires got “dramatically worse” overnight, area fire coordinator Bill Metcalf said at an early morning press conference this morning.

He said the situation was “worse than many of us could’ve imagined,” as already violent winds increased in almost all parts of the county.

Metcalf and a number of other officials stressed that residents should evacuate when told, saying that important firefighting resources were being stripped by rescue missions to save people who hadn’t left their homes when told.

“This is an extremely serious fire event, an extremely dangerous fire event that is no where near finished,” Metcalf said.

Officials said they’d still been unable to do much of any fire suppression because of the strength and speed of the fires. The city of San Diego’s firefighting helicopter was able to go up for only a short time to survey the growth of the fire, but it and other aerial resources have been grounded by wind and visibility problems.

“Mother Nature has control of those winds and no one else,” said county Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

Ron Lane, director of the Office of Emergency Services, urged residents to stay home and avoid going to work if at all possible. Officials are telling residents to avoid major highways so they can be kept clear for evacuations. The new road closures and evacuations are being announced continually.

Qualcomm Stadium has been opened as an evacuation center and Del Mar Fairgrounds are expected to be open soon.

Two fires were raging as of late Sunday evening, but there appear to be as many as eight going right now.

“This will probably be the worst fire this county has ever seen — worse than the Cedar Fire,” said Sheriff Bill Kolender.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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