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When the ashes finally settled after the firestorm that ravaged Southern California from late October through early November, the scope of the destruction was mind boggling. The fires burned more than 750,000 acres, equal to 1,170 square miles, an area roughly the size of Rhode Island. Twenty people died. Nearly 3,500 homes were destroyed.
San Diego County suffered the most fires, but the 13 individual blazes stretched from the state's southern border with Mexico to the suburbs north of Los Angeles. The damage was concentrated in outlying areas, where people will continue to work around the destruction - and the reconstruction - for a long time.
The hard-hit areas are all "big horse country," says Lee Green, a farrier and owner of The Shoein' Shop in Yucaipa, Calif. He says horseshoers in the region will have their routine schedules undone by ongoing roadwork and the need to travel to relocated horses after the loss of many stables.
"But that's no big deal when you're talking about other people who have lost their lives or all their property. We'll just roll with the punches for as long as we have to," says Green, whose driveway was covered by ash from the fires but who was not directly threatened by flames.
Road blocks and construction crews will be a common sight in the burned-out foothills for a while, he adds. There is erosion and flood prevention work to be done on the hillsides that are now without vegetation, and burned-away…