California Thomas wildfire grows to 230,000 acres
The Thomas Brand is southern California spread to 50,000 acres in just one day, making it the fifth-largest wildfire in modern California history.
The huge Southern California wildfire that has exploded in size, becoming the fifth-largest in history, has forced a number of celebrities to escape from their rich hill enclave.
Officials masks handed out to those who stayed behind in Montecito, an exclusive community about 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles, which is home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Drew Barrymore.
Forecasters predicted dry winds that spread fire throughout the region for a week would lose their power Monday. Light gusts of wind drove the flames away from communities, Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason said. But the possibility of an “unpredictable” effect of wind would keep firefighters on the edge, ” he said.
My commute home tonight. We are safe. Others do not. Pray for them.
Actor Rob Lowe wore a mask as he live-streamed his family evacuate Sunday of their smoke-shrouded house.
“Pray for the people in my area,” he said to his Instagram followers. “I hope that everyone is getting out of the safe, as we are, and thank you for the prayers and thoughts. And good luck to the firefighters, we need you!”
Everyone in the Montecito area is to check on each other and help people and animals to safety. I am proud to be a part of this community. I am sending lots of love and gratitude to the firefighters and sheriffs. I thank you all. #ThomasFire
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 10, 2017
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted that neighbors helped each other and their animals to get to safety.
“I am sending lots of love and gratitude to the firefighters and sheriffs. I thank you all,” she wrote.
Tens of thousands flee their homes as the flames themselves through foothills towns in the vicinity of Santa Barbara, the latest flare-up after a week of wind-fueled forest fires in the region.
With acrid smoke thick in the air, even the residents not under evacuation orders took the chance to leave out of fear of another shutdown of a key coastal highway that was closed intermittently last week.
The fire has destroyed more than 750 buildings, the officials said. It was partly recorded after the burning of nearly 360 square miles of dry brush and wood.
Customers come in Jeannine’s American Bakery in Montecito brushed ash from their clothes and marveled at the smoke so heavy that the visibility is only a few meters.
“There’s so much ash it’s incredible,” manager Richard Sanchez said. “Everything is white. The streets are covered, cars are covered, our parking lot is covered.”
Amtrak canceled by the city of Santa Barbara and its almost 200-year old mission of the church was closed as a result of smoke and ash. Authorities issued repeated warnings about the unhealthy air and warned people to stay indoors, avoid vigorous outdoor activities, and do not do anything to inflame axis.
Dr. Helene Gardner, an expert in air quality at the University of California, Santa Barbara, looked at ash to fall “like a fine snow” from her home after the school postponed the exam until January. She said that her environmental sciences students got a kick out of the fact that the delay is directly related to their field of study.
Gardner warned that the air warnings should be taken seriously, because of airborne particles — “nasty buggers” that can lodge in lungs and cause respiratory problems.
They said that the levels of particles from a forest fire can approach that in the vicinity of coal-burning plants in the pollution with heavy China and are especially problematic for people who consider themselves to questions.
“When I look out my window and see someone cycling, I think, ‘no, no, no, get of your bike and walk!'” she said.
“I’m not afraid yet,” Carpinteria resident Roberta Lehtinen told KABC-TV. “I don’t think it’s going to come roaring down, unless the wind kick.”
Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous forest fires. They blow from inland in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, accelerate as they squeeze through mountains and canyons.
The fire department was given more control over other major brands in Southern California, and inferred resources to the Santa Barbara foothills to combat the huge fire that started Dec. 4.
Fire is not typical in Southern California this time of year, but can break if the dry vegetation and lack of rain combined with the wind. Although the state came this spring from a years-long drought, hardly any measurable rain has fallen in the region over the past six months.
High fire risk is expected to be in January.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.