Firefighters forced to step aside as winds powered infernos

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

A plane drops fire retardant on a wildfire Friday in Fallbrook, Calif. The wind-swept blazes have forced tens of thousands of evacuations and destroyed dozens of homes in Southern California.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

A hillside glows with embers as the Thomas fire burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif., on Friday.

FALLBROOK, Calif. — Firefighters in Southern California were on high alert for dangerous fire potential even before the first blazes broke out.