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First death in California wildfires reported

December 8, 2017

LOS ANGELES — Wind-whipped wildfires that have incinerated hundreds of homes in Southern California continued to rage Saturday after easing slightly for firefighters under siege for a sixth day on the front lines.

The punishing blazes have deteriorated air quality and forced thousands from their homes. Authorities said Friday that a 70-year-old woman died in a car crash fleeing the massive wildfire burning in Ventura County — the first fatality reported from the six major fires in the region this week.

Virginia Pesola, of Santa Paula, died in a traffic crash “during active fire evacuation” on Wednesday night, the Ventura County medical examiner said. The cause of death was listed as blunt force injuries with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries. The crash was along an evacuation route.