LOS ANGELES — Two new wildfires broke out Thursday in Southern California, destroying at least 22 structures between them and threatening hundreds more, presenting yet another hurdle for overstretched fire crews.
With a new assessment of damage from the largest fire burning in Ventura County, the toll from the fires since Monday is now at least 500 structures, putting it on par with some of the worst fires but still a far cry from the more than 5,000 buildings destroyed by fires in northern California in October.
At least two structures burned Thursday afternoon after a fire broke out near large tracts of homes near the city of Murrieta in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles. Television footage showed multiple aircraft making water drops in an effort to stop the flames. It is being called the Liberty fire.
At the same time, the San Diego County Fire Authority reported that 20 structures had burned in a blaze near the inland San Diego County community of Bonsall, about 100 miles south of Los Angeles. The Lilac fire, as it was being called, had burned 4,100 acres and wasn't far from large tracts of expensive homes. Three people were injured, according to authorities.
Both blazes were driven by a new round of high winds. The fires represented new fronts on a series of wildfires that had been burning mostly in Los Angeles and to the north. That means they need new legions of firefighters to try to get them under control.
Of the blazes that had already been burning, the largest and most active was the Thomas fire, which had burned more than 400 structures and consumed 115,000 acres. Thursday night it was marching along the coastline north of the city of Ventura.
Late Thursday, evacuations were ordered in the area near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base and schools and casinos were being used as shelters.
According to The Associated Press, hundreds of elite thoroughbred race horses sprinted away from flames as wildfires tore through a training center in San Diego County.
There was no official count of how many animals were killed in the hazy confusion as both horses and humans evacuated, but trainers at San Luis Rey Downs estimated that at least a dozen had died, possibly far more.
Contributing: The Associated Press