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California Fires: Two People Burned in New Blaze

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With weary firefighters continuing their assault on several major wildfires wreaking devastation across Southern California, two new blazes fired up Thursday, adding to the region’s smoke-filled misery.

So far, 141,000 acres have burned in the six large wildfires in the state this week, according to Cal Fire officials.
Two people were burned in one new hot spot, known as the Lilac Fire, which was about 45 miles north of San Diego. Officials didn’t release the nature of the injuries to the burn victims nor give their conditions.
The 4,100-acre fire is moving at an “extremely rapid rate,” and burning west toward the Vista and Oceanside communities, officials said.
A total of 20 structures were destroyed, according to Cal Fire. Many of those were mobile homes in a community next to where the fire started, said Ron Lane, the deputy chief administrative officer for San Diego County.
To the north in Ventura County, the numbers were much more ominous. The four-day old Thomas Fire had burned 115,000 acres and destroyed 439 buildings, damaging 85 others.
Another new fire, just to the north of the Lilac Fire, had consumed 300 acres. That blaze, called the Liberty Fire, is 10% contained.
The wildfires are testing the stamina of firefighters and military personnel, who have been laboring almost nonstop. On top of exhaustion from the long hours, they’re also trying to stave off the effects of smoke inhalation and the airborne embers irritating their eyes.
At least 190,000 residents have been evacuated as 5,700 firefighters work to contain the blazes, Cal Fire officials said.
“Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they’re taking a beating, too, but they’re cooperating with our orders,” Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said earlier.
The state National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing out of Oxnard has also joined the fight, even though roughly 50 of the National Guardsmen involved had to be evacuated themselves, said spokeswoman Maj. Kimberly Holman. Three lost their homes in the blazes, she said.
The fires have pushed 110,000 Californians from their homes. Compounding problems Thursday were dry weather and merciless winds, with gusts predicted to reach the strength of a Category 1 hurricane in mountainous areas.
Almost half of the total number of firefighters are assigned to the massive Thomas Fire alone, officials said. Officials have shut down hundreds of schools spanning at least 16 districts.
It could go down as one of the most destructive fires in state history, and at one point, spread over 31,000 acres in the span of about nine hours — roughly an acre a second. At that rate, it would have consumed New York’s Central Park in about 15 minutes. The plume from the fire stretches 1,000 miles into the Pacific Ocean.
The fire is the most destructive ever in December (due to the number of buildings destroyed), according to Cal Fire records posted online.

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