Wildfire in California becomes state's largest ever

Joy Montgomery
December 26, 2017

A sprawling Southern California wildfire that has been burning through rugged, drought-parched coastal terrain since December 4 has become the largest on record in the state, state fire officials said on Friday.

Prior to the Thomas Fire, the largest blaze on record was the Cedar Fire in San Diego County back in 2003. However, firefighters appear to be getting a handle on the blaze, securing established containment lines adjacent to communities and other infrastructure while monitoring for flareups and new fires. Firefighter Cory Iverson, 32, died in an active fire zone on December 14 due to thermal injuries and smoke inhalation, according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office. It's been just over two weeks since the blaze began in Ventura, and it has now burned 273,400 acres across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

By Thursday, most of the southern end of the fire also was surrounded and the last mandatory evacuation orders were called off.

The Thomas Fire remains 65 percent contained.

"The main fire itself will not have any growth", said Brandon Vaccaro, Capt. Brandon Vaccaro of the California City Fire Department.

Several people killed in plane crash at major airport
Everyone on board was killed, but the victims have not been identified, nor has the number of victims been confirmed. More than 9 in 10 plane-crash deaths occur in general-aviation accidents, according to the NTSB.

This year is already the most destructive fire season on record in the state.

By Friday, however, humidity was higher, temperatures were cooler and the fire threat to homes in many areas eased.

Officials say the only visible flame was on the northern side of the fire where controlled burns set by firefighters to clear vegetation were being conducted.

Cal-Fire Public Information Officer Daniel Berlant told Newsweek that the Thomas Fire is "not actively growing", but there are still fire-fighting operations along the outer edges of the wildfire where it consumed additional acreage on Friday.

A dolphin statue is seen at a property destroyed by the Thomas Fire in Carpintera California as residents were taking stock of the catastrophic damage.

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