The Thomas Fire burns in the Los Padres National Forest on Friday near near Ojai, California. The Thomas fire has burned over 143,000 acres. It is 10 percent contained.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

First fire-related death confirmed in Southern California blazes

A woman whose body was found at a crash site on an evacuation route in Southern California was confirmed as the first fire-related death in a series of wildfires, CNN reported Saturday.

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Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead in a car that authorities said was involved in a crash during Wednesday’s evacuations near the Thomas Fire. The cause of death was “blunt force injuries with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries,” the Ventura County medical examiner office said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown was scheduled to visit Ventura County -- where the largest of the six wildfires is raging -- on Saturday, CNN reported.

Firefighters had been making progress against the Thomas Fire, reaching 10 percent containment, but high wind gusts forecast for the region this weekend could reverse it, CNN reported.

>> Terrifying footage of smoky commute

“With this break in the weather, we've made good progress, but that progress is limited to those areas that are safe to fly in,” said Todd Derum, the incident commander for Cal Fire.

>> Photos of the California fires

The Thomas Fire has burned 143,000 acres since it began Monday in Ventura County and has spread into Santa Barbara County. It is the largest fire in the Los Angeles area since the Bel-Air fire in 1961 scorched the homes of the rich and famous, CNN reported.

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