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Body found in burn area as Thomas fire spreads along California coast

Ruben Vives and Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Around 3:30 a.m., the fire from the hillside made it to the backyard of Julio Valera's home.

Valera, 66, said he and his wife had packed up their belongings into their car. His wife left, but Valera stayed behind to keep an eye on the house.

When the flames reached a tall and dry pine tree next to his home, his jaw dropped. The flames exploded. Valera held his forehead.

"Oh man," said Valera, who has lived in La Conchita for about 30 years.

Next door embers had caused an empty home to burn. It was the only structure in the vicinity that was destroyed.

Hours later, Valera's eyes were red from the smoke, his hair uncombed.


"I feel such a relief," Valera said.

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