Published: Tue, December 26, 2017
Money | By Michele Stevens

Thomas fire becomes the largest in California's history

Thomas fire becomes the largest in California's history

December 24-Low winds continued to help firefighters make progress against the epic Thomas fire on Sunday, and favorable weather should provide further relief over the Christmas holiday, authorities said. Fewer have experienced Christmas on a large fire. 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.

The firefighters at the Thomas fire base camp had a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve morning, with the Ventura County Fire Department sharing a group picture.

Map: See how far Thomas Fire zone would extend in San Jose

The fire previously topped Cal Fire's list of the top 20 largest wildfires in California, the oldest entry on which dates to 1932.

The amount of acreage burned by Thomas has exceeded the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County, which spread across 273,246 acres and killed 15 people before firefighters brought it under control, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to reach the low- to mid-70s next week in Santa Barbara. The local team worked to protect 1,500 homes, reporting thirteen homes were lost in the massive firefight.

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A newly planted tree also survived the fire. It started near Thomas Aquinas College in the Steckel Park area of Santa Paula, quickly spreading into Ventura and prompting hundreds of evacuations.

The fire is 55 percent contained. Although some 50-mph winds gusts were recorded, it produced "no remarkable fire activity" near Montecito or other areas, according to a state fire report.

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The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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