Update Wednesday, 6:30 a.m.
Crews managed to stop fire growth overnight — as of Wednesday morning, Cal Fire said the Thomas Fire is still 272,000 acres. Containment increased to 60 percent.
The blaze that began Dec. 4 surpassed the 2012 Rush Fire, which burned 271,911 acres in California (and 43,666 in Nevada).
Crews increased containment of the Thomas Fire to 55 percent Tuesday.
There are 6,851 fire personnel currently assigned to the Thomas Fire, which has destroyed 1,045 structures and damaged 250 more over 15 days.
Officials are expecting a “significant wind event” beginning Wednesday evening and into Thursday, according to National Weather Service incident meteorologist Rich Thompson.
Thompson said wind gusts could reach 35 to 55 mph across the front country of Santa Barbara. The winds in Ventura County are expected to be less strong (35 to 40 mph), Thompson added.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday lifted a mandatory evacuation order for all areas north of Highway 192 to East Camino Cielo in between Ladera Lane and Cravens Lane. That ordered also included Toro Canyon.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Cal Fire.
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.
▪ Thomas Fire: Has burned 272,000 acres so far. Cause is under investigation.
▪ Rush Fire: Burned 271,911 acres in California, and 43,666 in Nevada. August 2012 in Lassen County. Started by lightning.
▪ 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.