(NBC News) The devastating wildfires that had been largely confined to the Los Angeles area exploded into San Diego County Thursday.
Within a few hours, the Lilac fire had eaten through entire neighborhoods, burning 32 structures as it sped towards the ocean.
“This fire could make it all the way through Oceanside to the coast,” CAL Fire Division Chief Nick Schuler warned San Diego County residents.
In what’s become a familiar sight, anxious residents were told to evacuate immediately.
Just north of San Diego County, yet another fire erupted in Murrieta, sending more families packing, scorching more tinder-dry brush.
There are now six major fires burning throughout Southern California, with the largest still being the Thomas fire in Ventura County. Late Thursday, officials said nearly 500 homes and buildings have been destroyed or damaged there, more than triple the number from the day before.
“The wind will carry embers up to a mile out in front of the main body of the fire,” says Ventura County Fire Captain Stan Ziegler. “It makes challenges for the firefighters very difficult. coupled with the very dry conditions that we have out there.”