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First death reported as California wildfires continue to rage

Forest fires continued to spread Friday in Southern California, with local officials confirming the first fatality.

(Associated Press)

Authorities in Ventura County, California., confirmed the first fire-related death and Friday strong wind continued to whip up a huge storm over Southern California — leaving a charred path of destruction.

Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, died on Wednesday as a result of crash, injuries, smoke inhalation and burns, the county medical examiner’s office said in a statement. Pesola was found along an evacuation route in the vicinity of a fire northwest of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, three people were burned Thursday trying to escape a fire that ripped through Fallbrook, and hundreds of race horses were cut loose from their stables in order to escape the flames that engulfed a training facility in the near Bosnall. However, dozens of horses died in the fire.

This week is the California forest fires have destroyed more than 700 homes and buildings, and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the fires, which burned nearly 260 square miles since Monday.

Firefighters have managed to get some control over the largest fire, which broke out in Ventura County on Monday, and since then it has grown to 223 square miles and destroyed 476 homes and buildings.

Communities along the coast of the Pacific ocean between Venutra, Santa Barbara managed to escape the flames, and although the hills along the US Route 101 were black, houses went unscathed at La Conchita and Faria Beach.

A fleet of air tankers and helicopters assisted the 1000 firefighters who have battled the flames, authorities said, and enough progress against other large fires in Los Angeles to lift most evacuation orders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Benjamin Brown is a reporter from Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bdbrown473.

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