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Despite 'Wind Event,' Crews Closing in on Taming Giant Thomas Fire

Despite 'Wind Event,' Crews Closing in on Taming Giant Thomas Fire

The Thomas Fire, which broke out December 4 in Santa Paula, is now the second-largest in California history.

The multiple fires exploded after being fed by warm temperatures, low humidity and fierce Santa Ana winds, which forced more than 200,000 Californians to evacuate their homes.

While winds will diminish for a time later Friday through Saturday, cold air plunging across the West and a strong area of high pressure developing over the Great Basin will lead to another round of gusty winds beginning later this weekend.

As of Thursday morning it was holding steady at 272,200 acres, with containment still at 60 percent.

Approximately 16,000 people remain under evacuation orders and 12,000 are in evacuation warning zones.

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The Thomas blaze, which became California's second largest wildfire on Tuesday, is almost as large as the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County, which consumed a record 273,246 acres (110,579 hectares) and killed 15 people. They arrived at the Goshen Fire District Wednesday night. Even when there's no sign of flame or smoke, fires can rekindle.

Thousands of residents from Montecito north to the Santa Barbara neighborhoods of Eucalyptus Hill, Riviera, Mission Canyon and Foothill could finally return to their homes, as all mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders in place for several days were lifted for Santa Barbara County at around 9 a.m. Thursday. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said they are constantly evaluating repopulation and the lifting of those orders based on the wind forecast.

"I believe we've done it so well that we're now getting the test", Childers said.

Good progress was made again Wednesday on other flanks of the fire, including in the Pendola area in the Santa Barbara back country, near Rose Valley off Highway 33 north of Ojai, and in the Fillmore area.

For Thomas Fire updates, visit Santa Barbara County's website and Ventura County's emergency page.


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