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Southern California Fires

Media: San Francisco Chronicle

FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) — 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 fire exceeded 6 square miles (16 square kilometers) 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. Three people were burned trying to escape the flames, said Capt. Nick Schuler of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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. Fire crews also fought large fires around Los Angeles, though they made enough progress to lift most evacuation orders.

Like other fires that have broken out this week, Fallbrook has a history of destructive blazes. 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).