Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Thomas Fire 45 percent contained, destroys Montecito homes

Mario Tama  Getty Images Mario Tama Getty Images
Charlie Simmons | 19 December, 2017, 11:44

Lower temperatures, slightly higher humidity and light winds forecast for Monday and today will be "critical" for firefighters hoping to make progress against the blaze, said fire spokesman Capt. Rick Crawford. "It's one of the longest respites we've had". "Those winds will transition to more typical Santa Ana winds that would affect L.A. and Ventura counties on Thursday".

"We're definitely not out of the woods yet; there's a lot of heat up on the hill", he said.

Evacuation orders were issued on Saturday for areas in California's Santa Barbara County as the state battles its third-largest wildfire since 1932, with winds and dry conditions threatening to help the blaze grow. About 18,000 structures remain threatened by wind-driven flames, which have destroyed 1,026 structures and damaged 242 others, according to Cal Fire.

But state fire Deputy Chief Mark Brown says before the fire is fully contained, the blaze will nearly certainly become the biggest in state history.

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Fire officials lifted several evacuation orders and warnings Monday, including some areas in the city of Santa Barbara, but Sheriff Bill Brown said there are still about 16,000 people affected by mandatory evacuation orders, and another 10,300 people living in voluntary evacuation warning areas. On the eastern side of the fire, the threat continues for Fillmore in Ventura County. Fire activity has decreased in that area, but firefighters wanted to use the favorable wind conditions to their advantage there, Negrete said.

As residents begin to return home there are things to look out for. "It's just smoke and ruin right now".

Rob Lowe helped firefighters and then invited them to help themselves to a meal after they worked to save his home and others' in the path of the wind-whipped Thomas Fire, which has been burning since December 4 and most recently was threatening homes in Montecito.

No further information was available about the second firefighter, who reportedly also had minor injuries.

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