First Fatality From SoCal Wildfires Confirmed in Thomas Fire

The first fire-related fatality from a series of wildfires that have covered Southern California in smoke and ash was confirmed Friday, authorities said.

Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead in a car that had been involved in a crash along an evacuation route in a burn area of the Thomas fire in Ventura County on Wednesday night. According to the county medical examiner, Pesola’s cause of death was blunt force trauma with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.

“The death involved a traffic incident during active fire evacuation,” the medical examiner wrote in a news release. She had been reporting missing after the evacuation.

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