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California wildfire is now the second largest in history

Flames burning near power lines in Sycamore Canyon in the vicinity of West Mountain Drive in Montecito, California. It is now the second largest wildfire in the history of California. The so-called Thomas Fire, that burnt for nearly two weeks, still threatens 18,000 homes. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire department via AP)

The monster of a wildfire burning in Southern California is now the second largest eruption in the history of the state, since accurate data were kept from 1932.

Officials estimate that the Thomas Fire will become the largest in the history of California for full containment expected by Jan. 7.

The devastating fire that began on Dec. 4 has killed at least two people, including a firefighter. It has destroyed at least 750 homes and burned approximately 425 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara county.

It has burned hundreds of homes in the coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles. As of Tuesday, 432 people were still staying at evacuation shelters operated by the Red Cross, an agency spokeswoman Georgia Duncan said.

It continues to threaten 18,000 homes and other buildings.

The fire, which is only 55 percent contained Tuesday night, is only about 1,200 acres less than the state’s largest fire. That blaze, the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego, killed 15 people.

State fire officials say that the Thomas Fire is slightly larger than the 2012 Rush fire in Lassen County.

Firefighters say that the decreasing winds and higher humidity are helping them, but brushing in the area remains tinder-dry.

The crews were taking advantage of the calm conditions Tuesday by performing a controlled burn to remove swaths of dry brush along the fire’s northern edge.

The county of Ventura, the city of Santa Paula, the city of Ojai and city of Ventura have proclaimed local emergencies, Fox 11 reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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