Two people burned in new blaze

With weary firefighters continuing their assault on several major wildfires wreaking devastation across Southern California, two new blazes fired up Thursday, adding to the region’s smoke-filled misery.

Two people were burned in one hot spot, known as the Lilac Fire, which was about 45 miles north of San Diego. The fire went from about 10 acres to 2,000 acres in a matter of hours. A total of 20 structures were destroyed, according to Cal Fire. The agency didn’t release the nature of the injuries to the burn victims nor give their conditions.

Another fire, just to the north of the Lilac Fire, had consumed 220 acres.

The wildfires are testing the stamina of firefighters and military personnel, who have been laboring almost nonstop. On top of exhaustion from the long hours, they’re also trying to stave off the effects of smoke inhalation and the airborne embers irritating their eyes.

“Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they’re taking a beating, too, but they’re cooperating with our orders,” said Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

The state National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing out of Oxnard has also joined the fight, even though roughly 50 of the National Guardsmen involved had to be evacuated themselves, said spokeswoman Maj. Kimberly Holman. Three lost their homes in the blazes, she said.

“We have folks who lost their homes and many who were evacuated and still they did their duty and worked to help their community,” Holman said.

The unit was grounded late Thursday morning because of turbulent winds. On Wednesday, two C-130s were able to drop about 18,000 gallons of retardant during runs in the Ojai area in Ventura County, she said.

Grounding planes is sure to complicate the arduous battle against fires that have pushed 110,000 Californians from their homes. Compounding problems Thursday were dry weather and merciless winds, with gusts predicted to reach the strength of a Category 1 hurricane in mountainous areas.

About 5,000 firefighters — half of them assigned to the massive Thomas Fire alone — have been fighting the blazes as they race across hillsides and through neighborhoods, officials said. Almost 9,000 homes are without power. Officials have shut down hundreds of schools spanning at least 15 districts.

At 96,000 acres, the Thomas Fire is roughly the size of Colorado’s capital. The blaze was 5% contained…

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