Authorities have confirmed the first death as a result of the approximately 150,000-acre Thomas Fire in Ventura County. The victim was a 70-year-old woman.
Virginia Pesola, of Santa Paula, was reportedly found dead inside a burned car near Ojai. Pesola was involved in a traffic accident while evacuating, and she died of blunt force injuries combined with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, a medical examiner said.
The Thomas Fire ignited at about 6:28 p.m. Monday north of Santa Paula near highways 150 and 126. Pushed by Santa Ana winds, the fire spread northwest of Ventura and has been closing in on Santa Barbara County.
As of Saturday morning, the blaze has burned 148,000 acres and is 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The Thomas Fire has destroyed 537 structures.
Another 118 structures have been damaged, and 15,000 structures are threatened. Numerous evacuation orders remain in effect in both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
About 4,000 fire personnel have responded to the blaze. Winds are continuing to hamper containment efforts.
Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire.