Fires

Thomas Fire containment rises, and now Santa Barbara and Ventura want you to visit

Watch this incredible, dangerous smoke plume created by massive California wildfires

Ventura County Fire Department shot this time-lapse video of a plume of smoke collapsing and creating dangerous conditions on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, during the Thomas Fire. As the massive smoke plume generated by the fire continues to rise, i
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Ventura County Fire Department shot this time-lapse video of a plume of smoke collapsing and creating dangerous conditions on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, during the Thomas Fire. As the massive smoke plume generated by the fire continues to rise, i

Update Thursday, 7:30 a.m.

The Thomas Fire was 91 percent contained as of Thursday morning, with total acreage at 281,893.

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The Thomas Fire reached 89 percent containment Wednesday morning and, due to decreased fire activity, officials encouraged visits to Santa Barbara and Ventura counties during the upcoming holiday weekend.

“The Thomas Fire has very little active heat at this time,” fire officials said in a release on Wednesday. About 688 firefighters are still working the fire. In an encouraging sign, officials encouraged visiting Santa Barbara and Ventura as well as surrounding areas that were affected by the blaze in recent weeks, saying that “businesses are open and eager to serve the public.”

Reduced fire activity means there’s little smoke in the air and it’s safe for people to do outdoor activities unless they are hyper-sensitive to smoke, officials said.

Parts of Los Padres National Forest are still closed for safety reasons. Authorities said two back country areas had active fire on Tuesday but neither posed a threat to containment and there were no active fire runs.

The area west of Cherry Creek Road in Ojai still has large areas of unburned fuels, and firefighters expect active fire in the area in the next few days, officials said. However, authorities don’t believe the fire will move outside of established containment lines, as activity in the area has “settled down.”

Firefighters are making water drops in the Bear Heaven area, where there are still hotspots, due to the steep, rugged terrain.

Authorities encouraged residents and visitors to Santa Barbara and Ventura counties to be mindful of an increase in displaced wildlife that may be seen roaming in local communities.

Cal Fire said individuals who encounter these displaced animals are encouraged to maintain a safe distance, refrain from feeding them, and call 911 if a threat is perceived.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department's Mike Eliason shared this video Tuesday night of the Thomas Fire above Bella Vista Drive near Romero Canyon in Montecito.

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