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The Thomas Fire grew more than 2,000 acres overnight, from a reported acreage of 267,500 on Saturday night to 269,000 acres by Sunday morning.
The fire is now the third-largest in California history and has been burning for 13 days. The fire is about 40 percent contained; full containment is not expected until January.
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More than 1,000 structures have been destroyed and 242 structures have been damaged by the fire, Cal Fire said. About 18,000 structures are threatened by the fire, which started near Thomas Aquinas College in Ventura County on Dec. 4 and spread within days to Santa Barbara County. There are 8,529 fire personnel battling the Thomas Fire. Evacuations remain in effect for large areas of Santa Barbara and Montecito.
About 7 a.m. Sunday, strong north winds increased the fire behavior “significantly” in the Santa Barbara zone of the fire, according to the U.S. Forest Service. However, by about noon on Sunday, the Forest Service said winds in the Santa Barbara area were “noticeably weaker” and may turn weakly onshore in the afternoon.
Officials expect “critical fire weather,” meaning high winds and low humidity, to continue in the area of the fire, the Forest Service said.
Authorities expect northerly and northeastern winds blowing through the fire area, which is conducive to fire growth in the western and southern portions of the fire, the Forest Service said. That means the fire will continue to threaten Santa Barbara, Montecito and Summerland.
On Saturday, residents from the Cottage Oaks long-term care facility in Santa Barbara were evacuated to a long-term care facility in San Luis Obispo, according to a news release from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department. Family members seeking information about a patient who may have been evacuated from Cottage Oaks are advised to call 805-305-9326.
Elsewhere in California, the Creek Fire in Los Angeles County, which has been burning since Dec. 5, remained at 15,619 acres and is 98 percent contained.
The Lilac Fire in San Diego County reached 100 percent containment after burning 4,100 acres since Dec. 7. The blaze destroyed 157 structures and damaged 64 more.