Image: A firefighter holds his helmet during a gust of wind while using a water canon on top of a fire truck to try to protect buildings that were in the path of a fast-moving wildfire burning through the Rancho Bernardo neighborhood of San Diego, California, October 22, 2007
SAN DIEGO - Thousands more residents were ordered to evacuate their homes Tuesday, bringing the number of people chased away by the wind-whipped flames that have engulfed Southern California to at least 300,000.
By day three, the dozen wildfires had burned 1,200 homes and businesses and set 245,957 acres — 384 square miles — ablaze, and the destruction may only be the start for the region. Tuesday's forecast called for hotter temperatures and more explosive Santa Ana gusts.
The blazes bedeviled firefighters as walls of flame whipped from mountain passes to the edges of the state's celebrated coastline, spreading so quickly that even hotels serving as temporary shelters for evacuees had to be evacuated.
BREAKING VIDEO: WORST FIRE IN SAN DIEGO'S HISTORY