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Firefighters took advantage of calm winds in Southern California to reach 55 percent containment of a massive wildfire as of Tuesday evening, but the acreage ticking up also took it from the third to second largest California fire of all time.
Monday and Tuesday presented a two-day window of calm winds in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties where the Thomas Fire has burned for two weeks.
The fire northwest of Los Angeles has now spread to about 425 square miles, making it the second largest since accurate records were kept starting in 1932. The largest, the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County, burned about 427 square miles. Though, there's an asterisk to that — the previous second largest burned 271,911 acres in California to the 272,000 the Thomas Fire has now burned, but burned another 43,666 in Nevada, for a total of 315,577 acres, or about 493 square miles.
Officials estimate the Thomas Fire will grow to become the biggest in state history before full containment, which is expected by Jan. 7.
It was still threatening communities northwest of Los Angeles, where thousands remain under evacuation orders.
The hot, gusty winds that caused a huge flare-up and forced more residents to flee over the weekend are expected to come back Wednesday.
The fire churning through brush in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has burned more than 1,000 structures, including at least 750 homes. Some 18,000 more residences are still threatened.
Michael and Sonia Behrman told KABC-TV they fled their hillside home when heavy smoke blew in and returned to find it in ashes.
"It's just hard to put into words," Michael Behrman said. "It's where we live. It's just smoke and ruin right now."
The body of a firefighter killed while battling the blaze was transported Sunday in a procession that rolled through five counties before ending up at a funeral home in San Diego. Mourners stood on freeway overpasses to pay respects to firefighter Cory Iverson, 32, who died Dec. 14 of burns and smoke inhalation. He is survived by his pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter.
The blaze is also blamed for the Dec. 6 death of a 70-year-old woman who died in a car crash on an evacuation route.
Everything about the fire has been massive, from the sheer scale of destruction that destroyed entire neighborhoods to the legions of people attacking it. More than 8,000 firefighters from nearly a dozen states battled the third largest wildfire in state history.
The cause remains under investigation. So far, firefighting costs have surpassed $117 million.
Santa Barbara County:
- Montecito and Summerland area north of Alameda Padre Sierra/South Salinas Street and Highway 101, south of State Route 192, east of Mission Canyon Road, and west of Hot Springs/Summit Road (STB 1, 7, 8 & MTO 8, 9).
- The area north of State Route 192, south of East Camino Cielo, East of San Roque/Jesusita Lane and West of Ladera Lane (SBC 15, 16 & MTO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
Unincorporated Ventura County:
- Residents and day visitors of Rose Valley
Santa Barbara County:
- The area north of Highway 101, south of State Route 192, west of Toro Canyon Road, and east of Olive Mill Road/Hot Springs Road (MTO 10, 11 & CRP 7, 8).
- The area north of State Street/Constance Avenue/Garden Street/E. Los Olivos Street, west of Mission Canyon Road/Los Olivos Street, south of State Route 192, and east of Old Mill Road/Stage Coach Road (SBC 24, 25 & STB 22, 23, 24).
- The area south of State Street, west of S. Hope Avenue, east of Modoc Road at Las Palmas Drive, and north of Modoc Road at Calle De Los Amigos (SBC 24, 25).
- Painted Cave community includes the area north of Hwy 154 and south of East Camino Cielo along Painted Cave (SBC 90).
- East of N Patterson Avenue at La Josa Road, north of Cathedral Oaks Road, west of Hwy 154, and south of the intersection of Highway 154 and N. San Marcos Road (near top of San Marcos Pass). Portions of N. San Marcos Rd S/B from Hwy 154/Painted Cave are not in a voluntary zone (SBC 12).
- North of State Route 192 (Foothill Road) to East Camino Cielo in between Highway 154 and North Ontare Road (SBC 13, 14).
- City of Ojai, Ojai Valley and unincorporated areas:
- SR 33 from Fairview Ave, Ojai to Ventucopa
- Highway 150 between Ojai and Santa Paula on 12/20/2017 from 8am - 5pm. (SCE will be doing restoration work during the daylight hours for safety concerns.)
Santa Barbara County
- State Route 192 at:
- Cravens Lane
- Toro Canyon Road (Lower)
- Toro Canyon Road (Upper)
- La Cumbre
- Mission Canyon/Tomoe Road
- Mission Canyon Fire House
- La Mirada
- Ladera Lane
- Ortega Ridge Road
- Sheffield Drive
- Lilac Drive
- Park Lane
- San Ysidro Road
- Hot Springs Road
- Surface street closures:
- Hot Springs at E. Pepper Lane
- Hot Springs at School House Road
- Hot Springs at Olive Mill Road (Upper)
- Hot Springs at Olive Mill Road (Lower)
- Olive Mill Road at San Benito Way
- Olive Mill Road at N. Jameson Lane
- Hot Springs at Coast Village
- Olive Mill at Coast Village
- Highway 101 offramp closures:
- US-101 NB at Hermosillo