Southern California's Thomas Fire became the state's largest wildfire in recorded history Friday night, state officials said. The blaze has now burned 273,400 acres, which is about 427 square miles, and has destroyed more than 1,000 structures. One firefighter was killed fighting the fire, which is now 65 percent contained.
— USFS Fire-California (@R5_Fire_News) December 23, 2017
Nearly 3,000 firefighters are still battling the Thomas Fire around the clock and are expected to continue to do so until at least early January, depending on weather conditions. Firefighters' worst case scenario would see the Thomas Fire going through downtown Santa Barbara. Bonnie Kristian
California's Thomas Fire grew to be the second-largest wildfire in the state's recorded history by Sunday morning. The blaze has burned more than 267,000 acres and is expected to grow larger than the all-time biggest California fire as soon as Sunday night thanks to continued high winds in Southern California. The fire now poses a serious threat to hundreds of homes in Montecito, a coastal town on the outskirts of Santa Barbara.
"When the [sundowner winds] surface in that area and the fire starts running down slopes, you are not going to stop it," said Mark Brown, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "And we are not going to stand in front of it and put firefighters in untenable situations."
See the fire's projected growth via the Los Angeles Times below. Bonnie Kristian
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) December 12, 2017
Southern California is expecting very strong winds and low humidity for a 24-hour period beginning Saturday and ending Sunday. The weather conditions will pose a new challenge to the thousands of firefighters battling wildfires in the region, especially those dealing with the Thomas Fire, which is now the third-largest wildfire in California's recorded history.
— CIIMT1 (@Info_CIIMT1) December 16, 2017
The Thomas Fire that started in Southern California's Ventura County last Monday has burned over 200,000 acres, growing in size by more than 25,000 acres on Sunday and forcing more people to evacuate in Santa Barbara County.
The out-of-control fire crossed county lines on Saturday night, fueled by dry winds and air, and is only 15 percent contained. Officials say 88,000 people have had to flee their homes because of the fire, and estimate it has cost $25 million to fight it so far. There are 8,500 firefighters currently battling six fires burning across Southern California.
In Santa Barbara County, about 85,000 customers are without power, and several schools have already canceled classes on Monday. The Santa Barbara Zoo is outside of the evacuation area, but smoke is in the air and ash is falling on the property, forcing the zoo to put the animals in their night quarters. To keep them entertained, staffers are playing with the animals and giving them plenty of treats and toys. "The gorillas like music," director of marketing Dean Noble told the Los Angeles Times. Catherine Garcia
"This is kind of the new normal," California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Saturday of the massive wildfires in Southern California that have claimed at least one life and burned tens of thousands of acres. "With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up," Brown continued. "So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and forests ... in a place that's getting hotter."
Fires in the northern part of the state this fall killed more than 40 people and burned more than 8,000 structures. Dry, windy conditions have made the blazes now burning near Los Angeles difficult to contain. Bonnie Kristian
The six wildfires sweeping through Southern California have claimed their first victim, authorities announced Friday. An unidentified 70-year-old woman was killed in a car crash Wednesday as she attempted to evacuate ahead of the flames.
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) December 8, 2017
The fires are expected to grow this weekend thanks to seasonal Santa Ana winds, with gusts that could exceed 50 mph in the mountains near San Diego. About 160,000 acres have already been burned by the six fires combined. More than 200,000 people have evacuated their homes, and some 8,700 firefighters are battling the blazes. Bonnie Kristian
Firefighters are continuing to battle blazes in Ventura and Los Angeles counties that broke out earlier this week, forcing more than 200,000 people to evacuate and destroying at least 160 structures.
The Thomas Fire in Ventura County is headed toward Ojai, and authorities said they are concerned that strong winds and dry air could fuel the flames for weeks. It has already burned 96,000 acres and is just 5 percent contained. While two smaller fires that broke out in San Bernardino County are now fully contained, two new fires erupted in Riverside and San Diego counties Thursday morning and afternoon. The Lilac Fire in northern San Diego County has already scorched 2,500 acres and torched 20 structures, fire officials said, the flames fanned by strong winds and growing at a "dangerous" rate. In Riverside County, the Liberty Fire has burned 300 acres in Murrieta and destroyed one building; as of Thursday evening it is 5 percent contained. Catherine Garcia
The home that Peanuts creator Charles Schulz built in Santa Rosa burned down Monday as devastating wildfires swept across Northern California, his son, Monte Schulz, said Thursday.
Charles Schulz's widow, Jean Schulz, 78, was able to escape before the flames engulfed the house, built by the Schulz family in the 1970s. Charles Schulz lived there until he died in 2000, and any Peanuts memorabilia that was in the house was destroyed. "The fire came by at two in the morning," Monte Schulz told The Associated Press. "Everything's gone."
Most of Schulz's original Peanuts artwork and memorabilia are at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, which is in Santa Rosa but was safe from the blaze. Monte Schulz lives 300 miles away in Santa Barbara, but his brother, Craig, still lives in Santa Rosa, and also lost his home in the fire. Catherine Garcia