More Fires in Southern California: Tens of Thousands Flee; Thoroughbred Horses Run for Their Lives

California fire thoroughbred horse (Sandy Huffier / AFP / Getty)
Sandy Huffier / AFP / Getty

New fires continued to spread throughout Southern California from Thursday into Friday as firefighters battled to contain those fires that have already been burning throughout the week, and dangerous weather persisted.

The largest fire, the Thomas fire in Ventura County, reached 115,000 acres in extent and was only 5% contained, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Los Angeles Country, firefighters made progress on the Skirball fire in West Los Angeles at 30% containment, as the Creek fire near Sylmar spread to 15,000 acres, at 20% containment.

In San Diego County, a number of new fires broke out: the Lilac fire, in the northern part of the county near Murrieta, reached 4,100 acres and 9% containment. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the county, according to Southern California Public Radio. Local officials made 100,000 calls to residents to evacuate, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

There was also a smaller fire, the Liberty fire, in Riverside County, at 300 acres and 5% containment, according to the running tally of local fires at the Times. Conditions remained dry and windy.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from areas near the flames, and animals continued to be the primary casualties. Near the Lilac fire, according to San Diego ABC affiliate 10 News, ranch hands worked to save 500 horses, though some were said to have perished. The Associated Press reported that hundreds of thoroughbred horses were in danger: “Hundreds of elite thoroughbred race horses sprinted away from flames Thursday as one of California’s major wildfires tore through a training center in San Diego County.” Owners let the horses — “worth hundreds of thousands of dollars,” and usually closely watched at all times — simply run free to save their lives.

Smoke from the fires continues to spread throughout the region — and beyond. Officials in the San Francisco Bay Area warned that smoke from Southern California had harmed air quality in the area, and issued a “Spare the Air” alert, according to

Officials were unable to use the massive 747 supertanker plane that was used to drop fire retardant chemicals in Northern California recently because of high winds and the difficulties of flying through canyons, according to the Orange County Register. Los Angeles firefighters deployed drones for the first time to help them in locating and fighting fires, according to Southern California Public Radio.



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