Dawn’s early light brought a welcome sight to residents of Santa Barbara County’s South Coast as well as firefighters on Sunday, as the massive Thomas Fire had visibly calmed overnight.
In contrast to the previous day, when gusty downslope winds whipped the blaze into an inferno, sending a giant pall of smoke over the South Coast, Sunday morning found relatively small columns of smoke rising from the 2-week-old fire, which has grown to 269,000 acres and remained at 40 percent contained.
With lower winds and improved visibility, a huge fleet of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft were hammering the blaze with water and retardant drops.
Firefighters on the ground were able to directly attack the flames again in places, after spending Saturday in a defensive posture and defending hundreds of homes from destruction.
Additionally, hand crews and bulldozers were busy strengthening and expanding containment lines.
The forecast for Sunday through Tuesday is for better weather on the firelines in Santa Barbara County, although a Red Flag fire warning is in place for Ventura County.
Evacuation orders were lifted at 2 p.m. Sunday for parts of the Carpinteria Valley:
▪ North of Highway 192 (Foothill Road) to the southern boundary of Los Padres National Forest, between Cravens Lane and Casitas Pass Road. The evacuation order remains in place inside the Los Padres National Forest.
▪ North of Highway 192 (Foothill Road) to East Camino Cielo, between Casitas Pass Road and the Santa Barbara/Ventura County Line.
▪ North of Highway 101 and south of Highway 192 (Foothill Road), between Cravens Lane and Casitas Pass Road.
All other mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders remained unchanged. A full list can be found HERE.
The California Highway Patrol reopened Highway 154 to through traffic Sunday afternoon, but the highway will continue to see morning closures (from 5 to 9 a.m.) to ease access for fire equipment, the agency said.
Click here for current N-95 mask distribution sites and air quality information.