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May 19th, 2014
05:47 AM ET

More California Wildfires Are Contained

The Cocos Fire is slated to go down for the count on Sunday, after scorching almost 2,000 acres of land.

Crews battling that blaze and other wildfires in Southern California expect to have it 100% contained before the day is done. And many of the other fires should meet with the same fate soon, they say.

A shift in the weather pattern has put the wind at their backs, figuratively speaking, bringing in cooler winds and moist air from the Pacific Ocean.

That means that Cocos resident Eloisa will get to return home after taking up temporary residence on a green cot in a high school gymnasium.

The Red Cross had converted it into a fire shelter and lined up dozens of the cots in uniform rows and columns. Most of them were empty, and Eloisa, who didn't give her last name, was one of the few guests left inside.

She told CNN affiliate KGTV that she is not ready to leave because of a culinary delight she tasted there.

"I don't like Mexican food, but they had something called fajitas," she said. "Oh, I came for seconds."

Good food at shelters notwithstanding, many residents have been able to return home, as crews have tamed walls of fire.

It has put a mass exodus into reverse.

In all, 176,000 notices of evacuation had been sent throughout San Diego County via cell phone calls, e-mails, text messages and calls to homes and businesses.

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Filed under: California wildfires
May 16th, 2014
05:09 AM ET

Wildfires Scorch San Diego County

In her 42 years of living in Southern California, Sophie Payne of Carlsbad has "never, never, never" witnessed so many wildfires at one time.

Three dozen raged overnight. Eight of them continued to burn Thursday in a patchwork across of San Diego County, ravaging 10,000 acres since Tuesday, and killing at least one person. Payne's hilltop house was an exhibit of their destruction: It was burned to the ground, except for a stone archway and several walls.

"This is my dream house, and what can I say," she said, looking at the destruction to the three-bedroom, four-bathroom house. "Now it's all gone."

Payne found some family keepsakes in a small safe, and while intact, the papers were charred at the edges. "It's just falling apart," Payne said.

Another family in Carlsbad similarly lost its house, but everyone - including the dog - survived.

"We walked up to this place, and it was like a bomb went off. I can't even explain to you how just horrific it was," Anya Bannasch told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Thursday.

"I've never seen anything like it. I pray for all the other families too out there that are going through this right now, because I know there's fires everywhere," she said.

Gay Walker was evacuated from her home in nearby Encinitas and doubted she would even be allowed to return by Friday. Police told her to evacuate immediately.

"It was an orderly evacuation, but it was reminiscent of something apocalyptic," Walker said.

The City of Carlsbad reported was what apparently the first fire-related death Thursday.

On its website, it said: "During a hot spot check, firefighters were alerted to a transient encampment in the area of Ambrosia and Calliandra. On checking the area, firefighters located a badly burned body. Further details about the deceased are unknown at this time and the investigation is ongoing."

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