Southern California wildfires claim first life

Lester Mason
December 12, 2017

Despite the intensity of the fires that raged on six different fronts - stretching from areas north of Los Angeles down to the San Diego region - authorities have reported only one fatality.

Since erupting in Ventura County late Monday, that blaze has seared 148,000 acres (60,000 hectares), but an area fire department spokesperson said Saturday containment should improve "after aggressive fire fighting" the day prior. But he warned that the danger is not over, and strong winds could continue into this week.

The fire crept along ridge lines above Montecito and the city of Santa Barbara, and firefighters were bracing to keep it from coming downhill into those communities, officials said.

The "Skirball" fire - near the affluent, star-studded Bel Air district - was at least 50 percent contained after engulfing entire hillsides in flames.

Kaufmann said the fire "blew up" very aggressively overnight into Santa Barbara County.

"There was a wall of fire going to Santa Barbara on the 101" highway, McTavish said. Although the military has provided aircrafts for water drops, they were rendered useless after being forced to ground because of the winds. Her property was saved.

Wildfires have ravaged Southern California for five days.

Some half-dozen fires have raged across California since early this week.

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. Authorities reported Monday at least one person was killed in a vehicle crash connected to the fire, and a source told Eyewitness News the person appeared to be fleeing from the blaze. That fire has burned 4,100 acres and was 20 percent contained Saturday, according to Cal Fire.

More than 2,600 firefighters made progress against the blaze with 10% contained. The center reopened on Friday. The cost of the fire has crested $38 million, according to fire officials, and with roughly 18,000 more structures threatened, that cost is likely to increase.

A brush fire broke out on Saturday night in the city of Monrovia in Los Angeles County, prompting temporary evacuations, the US Forest Service said on Twitter.

Dozens of mobile homes consumed by the Lilac wildfire in Fallbrook, California on December 8, 2017. The fire swept through the area December 7, destroying trailer homes in the retirement community.

The fires have forced the evacuation of some 200,000 people and destroyed almost 800 structures.

"The winds are kind of squirrely right now", said county fire spokesman Mike Eliason.

"This could be something that happens every year or every few years", he said in a press conference. "It's just more intense, more widespread, and we're about ready to have firefighting at Christmas", Brown said.

Firefighters contained 80 per cent of the "Creek" fire - the largest blaze that menaced the LA region, which roared through more than 15,000 acres - while the nearby "Rye" fire was some 65 percent under control.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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