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439 buildings have burned in wildfire northwest of L.A.; South King Fire & Rescue sending help

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Fire officials say at least 439 homes and other buildings have burned in a wildfire northeast of Los Angeles.

The wind-whipped blaze has burned nearly 180 square miles in Ventura County stretching from hilly forests to the Pacific Ocean. It is only 5 percent contained and gusty Santa Ana winds that have driven the fire are expected to continue.

Officials Thursday night say they have made good progress battling much of the fire but that thousands of homes remain in jeopardy.

One section of the blaze continues to move toward the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Montecito.

It's the biggest and most destructive of the windblown fires raking Southern California. Another fire that erupted Thursday in San Diego County has burned two people and destroyed at least 20 homes.

 

 

The fire in San Diego County expanded to 4 square miles in a matter of hours and tore through the tightly packed Rancho Monserate Country Club community in the small city of Fallbrook, known for its avocado orchards and horse ranches. At least two people were hospitalized with burns.

The destructive blaze broke out as firefighters were trying to corral major wildfires around the Los Angeles area and 130 miles north near Ventura, where a massive fire threatened Ojai, a scenic mountain town dubbed "Shangri-La" and known for its boutique hotels and New Age spiritual retreats.

Like other fires that have broken out this week, Fallbrook has a history of destructive blazes. Ten years ago, as fall fires raced across Southern California, a blaze in Fallbrook injured five people, destroyed 206 homes and burned 14 square miles.

Thursday's fire prompted closure of state Highway 76 in both directions and evacuations in an area near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. Evacuation centers were set up in schools and casinos.