Update: 7 a.m. Tuesday
The Thomas Fire grew 500 acres overnight, to 271,500 acres on Tuesday morning. It is 50 percent contained.
Incident commanders for the Thomas Fire are still feeling good about the progress firefighters have made since Saturday’s big firestorm, and lifted some of the evacuation orders and warnings in effect in southern Santa Barbara County on Monday.
The next test for the firefighting strategy is just around the corner, with a Fire Weather Watch in effect Wednesday evening through Thursday morning for Santa Barbara County’s South Coast and mountain areas.
“We’re going to wind test this thing Wednesday and Thursday,” Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Eric Peterson told Noozhawk.
Officials are hoping their containment lines will hold at Gibraltar Road to the west and East Camino Cielo to the north, where crews spent the day Monday trying to cool down the fire.
Update 6:15 p.m.
The Thomas Fire is now 50 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.
The massive fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties grew only slightly Monday, to 271,000 acres, up 500 acres from the morning.
It is now just 912 acres short of becoming the second-largest wildfire in modern California history — that current spot is held by 2012 Rush Fire, which burned 271,911 acres in California and 43,666 in Nevada.
The largest fire in California history was the Cedar Fire, which burned 273,246 acres in San Diego County in October 2003.
While Monday’s weather provided a bit of relief for firefighters, another “wind event” is expected Wednesday.
Evacuations have been lifted for parts of Santa Barbara County that were previously impacted by the Thomas Fire.
As of Monday morning, the fire had burned 270,500 acres, and remained 45 percent contained.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has lifted evacuation orders and warnings for:
▪ The area within West Mission Street at Highway 101, east to State Street, north to Constance Avenue, east to Garden Street, south to Los Olivos Street, east to Alameda Padre Serra, south to South Salinas Street to Highway 101 and from Highway 101 east to Avenida Padre Serra.
▪ The area south of Highway 101 to the Pacific Ocean, between Ninos Drive east to Sheffield Road.
▪ All areas from Toro Canyon Road east to Casitas Pass Road and between Highway 101 north to Foothill Road and Highway 192.
▪ All areas east of Cravens Lane to Casitas Pass Road and Foothill Road north to East Camino Cielo.
The evacuation order has also been reduced to a warning for all areas of Toro Canyon, west to Olive Mill Road, from Highway 101 north to Highway 192.