Fires

273,400-acre Thomas Fire now the largest wildfire in California history

Watch Thomas Fire flames continue to rage behind Montecito home

The flames burned behind this home off Ladera Lane near Bella Vista Drive in Montecito on Dec. 14.
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The flames burned behind this home off Ladera Lane near Bella Vista Drive in Montecito on Dec. 14.

The Thomas Fire burning in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties hit a milestone Friday: The largest recorded wildfire in modern California history.

The blaze, which began Dec. 4, grew to 273,400 acres Friday and officially surpassed the Cedar Fire, which burned 273,246 acres across San Diego County in 2003. The Thomas Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures.

Cal Fire reported Friday evening there are 2,841 fire personnel assigned to the Thomas Fire, well below the peak of 9,000 late last week. The Thomas Fire was 65 percent contained.

Growth over the past three days has been incremental, despite a “significant wind event” Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

“Winds gusting to 50 miles per hour produced no remarkable fire activity in the Montecito area, Camino Cielo or Fillmore” Cal Fire said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Cal Fire.

A look at the largest wildfires in California, per Cal Fire:

▪  Thomas Fire: Has burned 273,400 acres so far. Cause is under investigation.

▪  Cedar Fire: Burned 273,246 acres. October 2003 in San Diego County. A lost hunter started the blaze to signal for help.

▪  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.

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