The Thomas Fire is well on its way to becoming the largest wildfire ever recorded in California.
After another day of aggressive expansion on Saturday, the fire grew to 267,500 acres, making it the third-largest wildfire in California’s history. And if the windy conditions persist, the Thomas Fire likely will surpass the 2003 Cedar Fire that burned 273,246 acres in San Diego County within the next few days.
The blaze has threatened communities for the better part of two weeks, starting in Ventura and Santa Paula, then Ojai and now much of the Santa Barbara coast.
When the Thomas Fire began 12 days ago, it quickly burned 45,000 acres and destroyed 150 structures the first night. It more than doubled in size two days later, and within a week the fire burned more than 200,000 acres.
Windy conditions continued to expand the acreage despite more than 8,000 fire personnel assigned to the blaze, making the Thomas Fire the fourth-largest in California’s history by Dec. 14.
A look at the largest wildfires in California, per Cal Fire:
▪ Cedar Fire: Burned 273,246 acres. October 2003 in San Diego County. A lost hunter started the blaze to signal for help.
▪ Rush Fire: Burned 271,911 acres in California, and 43,666 in Nevada. August 2012 in Lassen County. Started by lightning.
▪ Thomas Fire: Has burned 267,500 acres so far. Cause is under investigation.
▪ Rim Fire: Burned 257,314 acres. August 2013 in Tuolumne County. Started by an illegal campfire.
▪ Zaca Fire: Burned 240,207 acres. July 2007 in Santa Barbara County. Started by sparks from grinding equipment during a water pipe repair.