California wildfires force 200,000 people to flee, destroy 430 homes near Los Angeles


Some 200,000 people have been evacuated as wildfires roar through southern California.

More than 430 homes and buildings northeast of Los Angeles have been destroyed, officials said.

One of the main fires has burned nearly 180 square miles in Ventura County, stretching from hilly forests to the Pacific Ocean, whipped up by the Santa Ana winds.

Thousands more homes remain in jeopardy, authorities said.

No civilian fatalities have been reported so far.

On Thursday the flames hit the Rancho Monserate Country Club community in Fallbrook, known for its horse ranches.

At the San Luis Rey Downs training facility for thoroughbreds, many of the 450 horses were cut loose to prevent them from being trapped in their stalls.

One trainer said some of his horses had died at the facility, while some ranchers posted pleas on Twitter for help moving horses.

State Highway 76 was closed in both directions on Thursday.

Along the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara, tiny beach communities were under siege as fire raged from steep hillsides across US Highway 101.

“We drove through a wall of flames,” Wendy Frank said, describing her ordeal after evacuating her horses from Ojai on Wednesday night. “I didn’t know if we’d make it. I just put the accelerator down. I know we were going over 100 mph, we could have been going much more, and just hoped for the best.”

Fires flared up on Thursday along the highway, forcing an evacuation of the dozens of homes at Faria Beach.

“Anyone in your homes still, you need to leave now,” a California Highway Patrol officer said through a loudspeaker while driving down a smoke-shrouded street. “The fire is here, you need to leave.”

The highway, which runs the length of the state and is a major commuter corridor to Los Angeles, was closed intermittently along the 28-mile stretch between Ventura and Santa Barbara.


World News


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