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California wildfires: First death linked to blazes in Southern California -- live updates

Wildfires continue in Calif.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- Firefighters are struggling to control six fast-moving wildfires burning across a huge part of Southern California. The first death linked to the fires was confirmed Friday night. More than 1,000 buildings and homes have been destroyed and the fires have burned 260 square miles -- bigger than the size of Chicago.

From Santa Barbara to San Diego, some 8,700 fire fighters are slowly increasing the containment on these blazes. The Lilac Fire in San Diego County erupted on Thursday and exploded within hours, but firefighters caught a break on Friday when the winds died down, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports.

The largest most destructive blaze, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, has already burned more than 200 square miles. Some 400 structures have been reduced to rubble and the fire is threatening thousands more. One flank now stretches into the steep terrain of the Los Padres National Forest, Evans reports.

California Gov. Jerry Brown: Intense wildfires "the new normal"

The string of wildfires chased more than 200,000 people from their homes. In the San Diego area, some evacuated to a local high school.

Virginia Pesola, 70, was found dead in a wrecked car on an evacuation route in Santa Paula. It was the only fire-related as of Saturday morning. "This tragic death is the only confirmed fire-related death in Ventura County to date," Ventura County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Young told CBS Los Angeles.

Follow along for live updates. All times are Eastern unless otherwise noted.


12:08 a.m.: Lilac Fire is 50 percent contained, fire officials say

The Lilac Fire in San Diego is now 50 percent contained while the massive Thomas Fire in Ventura County is 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

The Liberty Fire in Riverside is expected to be contained Saturday night. 

11:55 p.m.: Artist's prized painting saved while Bel Air mansion burns to the ground

 After a  Bel Air mansion burned to the ground, one artist was touched that firefighters were able to save his prized painting, CBS Los Angeles reports.

A photo of the painting against the backdrop of the home that was destroyed has gone viral.

CBS Los Angeles Brittney Hopper spoke to the world-renowned painter, Daniel Maltzman, Saturday.

The  photograph really tells a story. A profound story. And in the photograph is his painting and it has the artist of the painting in tears.

Maltzman — who's based in Los Angeles — was watching the fire coverage closely when he saw the photograph. Thick black smoke in the background, a home burned to the ground, a firefighter pulling a hose and his painting unharmed.

"It's not about the picture. It's not about my painting. It's about the firefighters and it's about the gentleman that actually took that shot of the painting and it was so surreal that when I got it I was completely in shock."

9:02 p.m.: Lilac Fire 20 percent contained, fire officials say

The Lilac Fire in northern San Diego has burned 4,100 acres and is 20 percent contained as of Saturday morning, according to Cal Fire.

 At least 105 structures have been destroyed and 15 damaged, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Fire officials expected favorable conditions Saturday morning. However, Santa Ana winds and low humidity were expected to return Saturday afternoon, creating a challenge for the more than 800 firefighters battling the fire.

4:50 p.m.: 46 horses reportedly killed, others missing

At least 46 horses were killed at a training facility during the Lilac wildfire in northern San Diego County, The Los Angeles Times reports.

A California Horse Racing Board spokesperson told The Times that the death toll could rise. At least 450 horses were at the thoroughbred training facility in San Diego County when the fire broke out Thursday.

The San Diego Tribune reports that Trainer Martine Bellocq suffered second- and third-degree burns when she attempted to rescue horses from the facility.

3:30 p.m.: Gov. Brown: "It's been a terrible tragedy for so many people"

California Gov. Jerry Brown spoke to reporters Saturday and called the wildfires the "new normal" and said it's been a "terrible tragedy for so many people."

"We know from the changing in the climate that it's going to exacerbate everything else," he said. "With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up."

He added, "We have to respond, but we have to plan what we can do in the forests and the neighborhoods and we also have to do the larger challenge which is climate change itself."

3:00 p.m.: 5,000 residents still without power

San Diego Gas & Electric says that 5,800 customers are still without electricity on Saturday. Nearly 20,000 residents were without power Thursday afternoon at the height of the Lilac Fire, the company said in a statement

2:00 p.m.: Over 1,000 structures destroyed

Cal Fire announced the latest numbers regarding the wildfires on Saturday afternoon. They said 8,500 firefighters were battling six fires and 1,010 structures were destroyed. Another 25,000 structures are threatened and 90,000 civilians have been evacuated from their homes.  

The agency also said the six fires covered 175,000 acres and the Thomas Fire had become the largest at 148,000 acres.