Published: Sun, December 10, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

25 race horses killed amid California wildfires

25 race horses killed amid California wildfires

Montana volunteers are on the fire-lines this week in Southern California, helping to battle huge, wind-driven blazes.

One death is blamed on the Ventura blaze: A 70-year-old woman who crashed her auto while evacuating.

Pesola's death is the first connected to six wildfires ravaging the region.

Her older sister wanted to drive in to save her husband's auto, but Olvera told her: "Don't do it".

Burning almost 250 square miles since Monday, blazes whipped up by ferocious winds were blown quickly over huge areas near Los Angeles.

As Muir spoke with Lorenzen and visited with firefighters, there was an unexpected delivery from two girls - Hannah and Haley Thompson - whose home had survived the fires.

The flames have burned almost 250 square miles (650 square kilometers) since Monday.

California is still recovering from wildfires in the northern part of the state in October.

Retirees Dick and Joan Marsala found the wreckage of their mobile home still smoldering Friday morning.

"Homes, barns, apartment buildings", Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lorenzen told "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir. Looking through a window, he saw a framed photo of himself golfing still hanging on a blackened wall.

The so-called Lilac Fire that broke out in San Diego County on Thursday swept into San Luis Rey Training Facility, where it killed more than 40 elite thoroughbreds and destroyed more than 100 homes - majority in the Rancho Monserate Country Club retirement community, the Associated Press reported. Firefighting efforts were hampered overnight by wind and topography, fire officials said, but the blaze was 15 percent contained.

In the mountain town of Ojai the air-quality index was hovering over 500 - at the top of the "hazardous" scale - as fumes from the "Thomas" fire hung trapped by the mountains.

The couple, in their mid-80s, grabbed only a change of clothes and medications before fleeing Thursday through wind gusts and smoke as fire swallowed the row of mobile homes behind their place in the Rancho Monserate Country Club north of San Diego.

Three people were burned while escaping the flames and at least 85 buildings were destroyed, authorities said.

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By midnight Thursday, San Diego County officials confirmed that they had called more than 100,000 phone numbers to issue evacuation orders or warnings through AlertSanDiego, a regional notification system.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob says it's not clear if all of those structures are homes. "When Santa Ana winds come in, there's no stopping them".

"Milder winds allowed more helicopters and air tankers to make fire retardant and water drops", reports Danielle Karson from Pasadena.

The fire has not been contained.

Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency in San Diego County due to the Lilac fire, his office announced Thursday afternoon.

"It got a little too intense yesterday with the wind kicking up", he said.

Evacuations were ordered in the area near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, and schools and casinos were being used as shelters.

They expect 16-hour days, but Fox said they're happy to help.

The Skirball Fire in Los Angeles has forced hundreds of residents in the wooded hills near the Bel-Air neighborhood to evacuate and charred more than 475 acres (192 hectares).

The National Weather Service says there will be a resurgence of winds after daybreak with gusts up to 60 miles per hour (96 kph) directly below mountain slopes and in passes but will be less widespread than on Thursday.

Marie McTavish, 65, described a harrowing scene as she tried to evacuate horses to safety from the ranch her family has owned in Ojai for more than 30 years.

The week's infernos capped California's deadliest year ever for wildfires. Others in Southern California were not so fortunate. December's shockingly dry, hot and windy conditions brought on unprecedented fire danger.

Firefighters take a break after the fire destroyed dozens of trailer homes in the Fallbrook retirement community.

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