Southern California Thomas Brand, now the second largest in history, can get along with the new wind


California Thomas Fire now 50 percent contained

Firefighters take advantage of calmer winds; the officials think that the Thomas Fire will keep spreading until the largest in history, for full containment, which is expected by January 7.

The huge fires burning in Southern California is now the second largest eruption in the history of the state, as the crews are braced for the return of potentially dangerous gusts on Wednesday that could revive the flames.

Officials estimate the Thomas Fire will become the largest in the history of California for full containment, which is 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.

On this Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire department, flames burning in the vicinity of overhead power lines in Sycamore Canyon in the vicinity of West Mountain Drive in Montecito, California.

(Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire department via AP)

The past two weeks, the fire has burned hundreds of homes in the coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles and threatens the 18,000 structures. As of Tuesday, 432 people were still staying at evacuation shelters operated by the Red Cross, an agency spokeswoman Georgia Duncan said.

The fire, which is only 55 percent contained as of Wednesday, only about 1,200 hectares smaller than the state’s largest fire. That blaze, the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego, killed 15 people.


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

#ThomasFire: 272,000 acres & 55% perimeter containment

— VCFD PIO (@VCFD_PIO) 20 December 2017

Crews used calmer conditions over the past two days to build containment lines, and set controlled fires to clear dry brush ahead of the so-called sundowner winds expected to whip up Wednesday afternoon.

The increase of northerly winds is expected late Sunday night – Friday morning, shifting to NE by early fri night. Red Flag Warning issued for SBA County, with a Fire Weather Watch for LA/VTA Counties. #CAfire #ThomasFire #CAwx #SoCal

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) 20 December 2017

“Firefighters have worked hard for the last 3½ days to prepare for tomorrow,” Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority told the Los Angeles Times. “We are full of confidence.”


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

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire department, a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane makes a drop of water on hot spots along the hillside to the east of Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara, California, Sunday morning, Dec. 17, 2017.

(Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire department via AP)

Still, there is concern for areas above the coast of Santa Barbara County communities, including Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Summerland, according to FOX 11.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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