Last Updated Dec 9, 2017 3:55 PM EST
ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Firefighters are struggling to controlburning across a huge part of Southern California. The first death linked to the fires was confirmed Friday night. More than 1,000 buildings and homes have been destroyed and the fires have burned 260 square miles — bigger than the size of Chicago.
From Santa Barbara to San Diego, some 8,700 fire fighters are slowly increasing the containment on these blazes. The Lilac Fire in San Diego County erupted on Thursday and exploded within hours, but firefighters caught a break on Friday when the winds died down, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports.
The largest most destructive blaze, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, has already burned more than 200 square miles. Some 400 structures have been reduced to rubble and the fire is threatening thousands more. One flank now stretches into the steep terrain of the Los Padres National Forest, Evans reports.
The string of wildfires chased more than 200,000 people from their homes. In the San Diego area, some evacuated to a local high school.
Virginia Pesola, 70, was found dead in a wrecked car on an evacuation route in Santa Paula. It was the only fire-related as of Saturday morning. “This tragic death is the only confirmed fire-related death in Ventura County to date,” Ventura County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Young told CBS Los Angeles.
Follow along for live updates. All times are Eastern unless otherwise noted.
3:30 p.m.: Gov. Brown: “It’s been a terrible tragedy for so many people”
California Gov. Jerry Brown spoke to reporters Saturday and called the wildfires the “new normal” and said it’s been a “terrible tragedy for so many people.”
“We know from the changing in the climate that it’s going to exacerbate everything else,” he said. “With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up.”
He added, “We have to respond, but we have to plan what we can do in the forests and the neighborhoods and we also have to do the larger challenge which is climate change itself.”
3:00 p.m.: 5,000 residents still without power
San Diego Gas & Electric says that 5,800 customers are still without electricity on Saturday. Nearly 20,000 residents were without power Thursday afternoon at the height of the Lilac Fire, the company said in a statement.
2:00 p.m.: Over 1,000 structures destroyed
Cal Fire announced the latest numbers regarding the wildfires on Saturday afternoon. They said 8,500 firefighters were battling six fires and 1,010 structures were destroyed. Another 25,000 structures are threatened and 90,000 civilians have been evacuated from their homes.
The agency also said the six fires covered 175,000 acres and the Thomas Fire had become the largest at 148,000 acres.
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