Fires

Thomas Fire grows to 270,500 acres; 2 firefighters injured

In this Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, flames burn near power lines in Sycamore Canyon near West Mountain Drive in Montecito, Calif.
In this Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, flames burn near power lines in Sycamore Canyon near West Mountain Drive in Montecito, Calif. AP/Santa Barbara County Fire Department

Update: 7:15 a.m. Monday

The Thomas Fire grew just 500 acres overnight, to 270,500 acres. It remained 45 percent contained.

According to Cal Fire’s morning report, winds are expected to shift to a south to southwest direction this afternoon, and temperatures are expected to be cooler with higher relative humidity; these conditions are considered favorable for firefighting efforts.

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Areas of concern continue to be locations above coastal Santa Barbara County coastal communities, including “Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Summerland, and also Matilija Wilderness, Rose Valley, and Sespe river drainage north of Fillmore,” according to Cal Fire.

Looking forward, firefighters hope to benefit from two days of favorable weather on Monday and Tuesday before another expected sundowner “wind event” Wednesday evening, according to Noozhawk.com.

They will use that time to continue attacking and cooling the fire’s edges, burn out thick stands of vegetation, and mop up areas that have charred around homes and other structures. The aim is to diminish the risk from the coming weather change.

Original story

The Thomas Fire grew to 270,000 acres and was 45 percent contained, Cal Fire officials reported Sunday night. Two firefighters were injured in the day’s battle against the massive wildfire burning in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

“Today was one of our most productive days we’ve had on this fire,” said Cal Fire operations section chief Mark Brown. He added that officials have lifted evacuations in the Fillmore area as of Sunday night, and that fire personnel will not be in the Highway 126 corridor between Santa Paula and Ventura on Monday.

“That’s how confident and comfortable we are in that area,” Brown said.

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At a community meeting in San Marcos earlier Sunday, Cal Fire official Geoff Pemberton said the fire hadn’t made any significant runs Sunday.

According to Cal Fire spokesman Bill Murphy, 8,526 fire personnel are fighting the Thomas Fire and more than 104,000 people have been evacuated or sheltered since the fire began Dec. 4. About 18,000 structures remain threatened, and 1,026 structures have been destroyed.

Two firefighters were injured while fighting the fire Sunday, Brown said. According to the Ventura County Aviation Unit, one firefighter was injured Sunday afternoon in Rose Valley, near Ojai. Details were not immediately available on where the other firefighter was injured. Both firefighters had minor injuries, Brown said, and they were airlifted due to their remote locations.

According to National Weather Service meteorologist Rich Thompson, westerly winds that will begin blowing Monday through Wednesday will bring a higher relative humidity, which will improve conditions for the firefighters. Smoke from the fire may also blow north again into San Luis Obispo County, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey.

The Thomas Fire is the third-largest wildfire in California history. The second-largest is the Cedar Fire, which burned 273,246 acres in San Diego County in 2003. The largest fire is the Rush Fire, which burned 271,911 acres in California and 43,666 acres in Nevada in 2012, according to Cal Fire.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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