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>> Just right over here?>> Yeah.>> Dave Murray returned to his Ventura home on Friday only to find ash and destruction everywhere he looked.>> Yeah I think it's too surreal. You're really in shock because 25 years of memories. I don't think that anybody envisions watching their house go up in flames.
The Ventura County Sheriff's deputy is far from the only Californian to lose his home. At least 500 structures have been destroyed in five days of ravaging forest fires throughout the region. From the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, to the Lilac Fire north of San Diego, there are now six major blazes burning, all fueled by dry, Santa Ana winds.
Reuter's photographer Mike Blake is covering the Lilac fire.>> It's around 4,000 acres. It's destroyed some 85 homes. A number of horses have died. They've evacuated over 600 horses, in fact. And today, although it looks quite lovely, there's a lot of work for firefighters to do to make sure if the winds pick up again, no spot fires.
Those embers get caught in the Santa Ana winds and carry miles and miles. And then they're back in the very same situation they started in.>> The Thomas fire is the largest, having burned at least 132,000 acres. Destruction so vast it's unlike anything Deputy Sheriff Kevin Donoghue has ever seen.
>> We deal with wildfires pretty regularly in Southern California, especially in Ventura County. So we're used to being in the smoke, so to speak, but we're not used to seeing this much destruction.>> And although winds diminished to between 5 and 35 miles per hour on Friday, officials fear they're still strong enough to hamper their fight throughout the weekend.