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Southern California Thomas Fire now 50 percent contained, firefighters take advantage of calmer winds

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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.

A temporary respite from the strong winds that have helped fan the flames in one of California’s largest fires allowed firefighters to reach 50 percent containment as of Tuesday, but officials warned of potentially dangerous gusts can go later this week.

The Thomas Fire in the Southern California fires northwest of Los Angeles has now spread to 423 square kilometers, making it the third largest in the state since records were kept starting in 1932. State officials estimate the blaze will continue to grow to be the largest in the history of California for full containment is reached somewhere in the beginning of January.

A break in fierce Santa Ana wind allowed crews to perform a controlled burn in the area to get rid of the dry brush for wind forecast to pick up again starting Wednesday.

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire, a Bombardier 415 Super Scooper makes a water drop on a 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)

“We are going to a lot of that fuel out there,” fire Capt. Rick Crawford said. “That way, if the wind back to come there will be nothing more to burn.”

More than 8,000 firefighters continue to battle the blaze, which has burnt at least 271,750 acres and more than 1,000 structures, including at least 750 homes.

#ThomasFire [update] north of Santa Paula (Ventura and Santa Barbara County) is now 271,750 acres and 50% contained. Unified Command: CAL FIRE, @VCFD_PIO, @LosPadresNF, @VenturaCityFD, and Santa Barbara County Fire (@EliasonMike). https://t.co/E53h65FpCi … … pic.twitter.com/6S6CS4ITab

— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) 19 December 2017

SANTA ANA WINDS: WHAT ARE THEY?

The warm, gusty wind that caused a huge flare-up and more forced evacuations in the weekend are expected to whip up again Wednesday.

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)

Stuart Seto with the National Weather Service told the Los Angeles Times the extreme wind that come in north-south direction called “drink”, because they tend to occur during the evening hours, the fuel of the fire conditions in the mountains and canyons northwest of Los Angeles.

The other problem that has been facing the region for the month of December is the continued lack of rain.

“December is usually one of the big rain months,” he told the L. A. Times. “Usually, that is the reason why we don’t have the major fire hazard that we do now.”

THOMAS FIRE IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA JOINS LIST OF DESTRUCTIVE BLOOMS IN THE STATE

There are still 18,000 structures threatened by the blaze that charred parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara county.

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire department, the U. S. Forest Service Hot Shot crew members of Ojai, California., head down a fire break from E. Camino Cielo in Santa Barbara, California, Sunday morning, Dec. 17, 2017.

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

Fireman Cory Iverson, 32, died Dec. 14 from burns and smoke inhalation, while battling the flames. The blaze is also the fault of the Dec. 6 the death of a 70-year-old woman who died in a car accident on an evacuation route.

The cause remains under investigation. So far, firefighting costs more than $130 million.

The Associated Press contributed

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

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