VENTURA, CA - DECEMBER 07: The Thomas Fire burns on December 7, 2017 in Ventura, California. The fire has destroyed 439 structures and burned 115,000 acres. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP
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A brush fire driven by gusty winds that have plagued Southern California all week exploded rapidly Thursday north of San Diego, destroying dozens of mobile homes in a retirement community and killing race horses at an elite training facility.The destructive blaze broke out as firefighters tried to corral the largest fire in the state that was burning around Ventura -- 130 miles (209 kilometers) to the north -- and destroyed 430 buildings as it grew to 180 square miles (466 square kilometers) since Monday.Ten years ago, as a series of similar fires raced across Southern California, a blaze in Fallbrook injured five people, destroyed 206 homes and burned 14 square miles (36 square kilometers).The fire started from an unknown cause next to State Highway 76 and blew across six lanes to the other side.The fire and a smaller one 12 miles (19 kilometers) north in the city of Murrieta broke out the day after state officials sent an unprecedented alert to cell phones across seven Southern California counties warning that strong Santa Ana winds could cause extreme fire danger.The Ventura and LA-area fires have put tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders and destroyed nearly 200 homes and buildings, a figure almost certain to rise.
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