California Wildfires Extend to Mexico Border
FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) — Retirement communities built on golf courses, semi-rural racehorse stables and other usually serene sites were engulfed by flames as the San Diego area became the latest front in California’s wildfire fight.
The fire broke out Thursday amid dry, hot, windy conditions across the region that would be extreme for any season, but are especially stunning just two weeks from winter.
It exceeded 6 square miles (16 square kilometers) in a matter of hours and burned dozens of houses as it tore through the tightly packed Rancho Monserate Country Club community in the small city of Fallbrook, known for its avocado orchards and horse ranches. Three people were burned while escaping the flames, said Capt. Nick Schuler of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Meanwhile, firefighters in Ventura — 130 miles (209 kilometers) to the north — tried to corral the largest and most destructive fire in the state, which has destroyed 430 buildings. The so-called Thomas Fire has grown to 180 square miles (466 square kilometers) since it broke out Monday. Fire crews made enough progress against large fires around Los Angeles to lift most evacuation orders.
The fire north of San Diego, driven by winds above 35 mph (56 kph), razed rows of trailer homes in the retirement community, leaving charred and mangled metal in its wake. Evacuations were ordered in the area near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base and schools and casinos were being used as shelters.
Along the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara, tiny beach communities were under siege as fires leaped from steep hillsides across U.S. Highway 101.