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May 15th, 2014
08:55 PM ET

Fires threaten thousands of homes in California

Carlsbad, California (CNN) - 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. 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.

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.

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