Footage captures chaos, danger of San Diego wildfires

Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo News
Yahoo News

The raging wildfires in Southern California have forced hundreds of residents in San Diego County to leave their homes.

One of them, Jeb Durgin of Carlsbad, Calif., uploaded a video shot by his co-worker, Byron Bauman, showing a chaotic scene that resembled something out of a video game: windswept flames racing along a road; fire and smoke turning the sky blood orange; people frantically fleeing in cars and RVs; a helicopter dropping flame retardant over a row of hillside homes.

"I drove through the flames," Durgin told Yahoo News. "If there were police officers, if there were fire trucks, there's no way in hell they would have let us drive through that, but there was nobody stopping us."

Durgin said he and his co-workers were able to get to safety but not before navigating the inferno. This footage was shot Wednesday morning at about 10 a.m. along El Camino Real, where at least 30 homes were destroyed by the fires, officials say.

"We were one of the first ones on scene. Not a lot of people were aware of the situation. And there was nobody there regulating traffic. ... It was so early on in the fire that it didn't have all the people directing others where to go."

Durgin said that he first became aware of the fire when Bauman told him that he'd seen the smoke nearby. The two got in Durgin's vehicle to investigate. At first, Durgin said it "looked like a small plume of smoke, like maybe a car on fire."  A few minutes later, the fire was "out of control," Durgin said.

Durgin told Yahoo News that he called 911 and was told authorities were aware of the fire.

Durgin and Bauman returned to their office and told their co-workers that they all needed to leave.

"I run and tell the other gentleman that we need to get out of here now. He's like, 'What are you talking about? I haven't heard anything about it.' I said, 'Exactly, it's so early on you're not going to get an evacuation notice. There's nobody here to tell you to leave, because nobody knows it's happening.'"

Durgin said that by the time they left the office, police and firefighters were on the scene. "But there was no organized evacuation. It was flee for your life, figure it out later."

Elsewhere, a "firenado" erupted in San Marcos, Calif., according to Twitter user Tara Wallis.

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz)

Dylan Stableford contributed to this report.