FALLBROOK -- Retirement communities built on golf courses, thoroughbreds in race horse stables and other usually serene sites were engulfed by flames as the San Diego area became the latest front in California's wildfire fight.
The blaze, known as the Lilac Fire, broke out Thursday amid dry, hot, windy conditions across the region that would be extreme for any season, but are especially stunning just two weeks from winter.
It exceeded 6 square miles in a matter of hours and burned dozens of houses as it tore through the tightly packed Rancho Monserate Country Club community in the small city of Fallbrook, known for its avocado orchards and horse ranches. Three people were burned while escaping the flames, said Capt. Nick Schuler of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.