Fires

Thomas Fire containment reported at 86 percent

In this Dec. 8, 2017, file photo, firefighters monitor the Thomas fire as it burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif. State fire officials said Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, that the Thomas fire has scorched 273,400 acres, or about 427 square miles of coastal foothills and national forest.
In this Dec. 8, 2017, file photo, firefighters monitor the Thomas fire as it burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif. State fire officials said Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, that the Thomas fire has scorched 273,400 acres, or about 427 square miles of coastal foothills and national forest. AP

Crews fighting the Thomas Fire on Christmas Eve had the blaze 86 percent contained as they continued to battle what became the largest wildfire in modern California history Friday.

As of Sunday evening, the fire had grown to 281,620 acres, adding roughly 8,000 acres to its previous total. The containment figure was revised upward from a previously published estimage of 70 percent, which Cal Fire said was “posted incorrectly (Saturday) due to a typo.”

“The fire line from Ventura to Santa Barbara is contained and secure,” Cal Fire said in its nightly update. “Even though fuels in the fire area remain critically dry, with shorter days and lack of significant winds, no forward progress of the fire is expected.”

After multiple wind events during the previous week, the National Weather Service is forecasting mostly sunny weather for Christmas Day and Tuesday, with calm winds around 5 mph. Temperatures are expected to reach the low- to mid-70s next week in Santa Barbara.

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

The Santa Barbara Zoo had to say an early goodbye to its first-ever reindeer exhibit after the Thomas Fire forced it to evacuate two visiting reindeer to the Earl Warren Show Grounds on December 16, 2017. In a Facebook Live video on December 18, t

Cal Fire said individuals who encounter these displaced animals are encouraged to maintain a safe distance, refrain from feeding them, and contact their local animal control office if a threat is perceived.

“Hotspots remain in the Bear Heaven area,” Cal Fire said in its 6:10 p.m. report Sunday. “Air support with water drops (are) being used due to steep, rugged terrain with limited access.”

According to Cal Fire, the blaze had destroyed 1,063 structures and damaged 280 others as of Sunday evening. The estimated containment date is Jan. 7, 2018, according to Cal Fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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

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