Gov. Jerry Brown announced he will visit Ventura County on Saturday, as the Thomas Fire grew to 148,000 acres, claiming another 5,000 acres overnight. Cal Fire says the fire is 15 percent contained.
Nearly 4,000 responders are now battling the blaze that has consumed vast swaths of northern Ventura County and threatened southern Santa Barbara County. The fire, which started Monday, has destroyed 537 structures and damaged 118 more; 15,000 additional structures remain under threat. The Ventura County Fire Department estimates the cost of suppression efforts at $17 million.
The fire now also has its first recorded fatality: 70-year-old Virginia Pesola, of Santa Paula, died in a car crash in Wheeler Canyon on Wednesday; her cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma with terminal smoke inhalation. Wheeler Canyon was one of many areas to be evacuated as a result of the Thomas Fire.
Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties; specific information is available here.
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The cause of the Thomas Fire, one of six major wildfires now burning in Southern California, remains under investigation.