California’s wildfire, the state’s third largest, now bigger than New York City

by ASSOCIATED PRESS SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The massive wildfire that California has been battling since early December has now ballooned into the third largest in the state's history, burning a record amount of acreage, officials said Saturday. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority said the Thomas Fire, which started Dec. 4 in Santa Paula, has now burned 259,000 acres. That exceeds the devastating Rim Fire southeast of Sacramento in 2013 by 2,000 acres, and outsizes New York City, which measures more than 195,000 acres. "As of this morning, we're at 259,000 acres and still growing," Concialdi said. The region has had "red flag" — or hot, dry and windy — conditions for an unprecedented 13 consecutive days. The National Weather Service says those conditions would last at least through Saturday evening, with winds gusting to 40 mph in the Santa Barbara County mountains where the fire is burning. [...]

December 16th, 2017|0 Comments

Thousands flee as wildfire ‘beast’ grows to California’s third-largest

VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A raging California wildfire powered by fierce winds grew into the third-largest in state history on Saturday as forced evacuations turned neighborhoods into ghost towns and ash fell in some areas like heavy snow. High winds and dry conditions were expected to remain through the weekend to power the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more since erupting on Dec. 4, including homes in the wealthy enclave of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara. “It is a beast,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson told a news conference. “But we will kill it,” he said. Nearly 8,500 personnel using nearly 1,000 engines and 32 helicopters were battling the blaze, which was 40 percent contained on Saturday evening. It has become the seventh-most destructive in state [...]

December 16th, 2017|0 Comments

California wildfires now larger than New York City and Boston combined

(CNN)One week after the Thomas Fire exploded from a brush fire to a raging inferno, hundreds of firefighters are still struggling to contain it. The blaze is larger than all of New York City and was only 15% contained as of Monday morning, according to the fire protection agency CAL FIRE.   At more than 230,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, the Thomas Fire is now the fifth largest wildfire in modern California history. But it's only one of six major wildfires torching the state.   As the flames move on to new neighborhoods, some evacuated residents have returned to find no home standing.   David Karian used a hand rake to sift through the charred rubble of his elderly parents' home in Ventura.   "There's not much, but if there's a few things that will help them have some connection to the past, [...]

December 11th, 2017|0 Comments

First fire-related death confirmed in Southern California

(CNN)A woman whose body was found at a crash site along an evacuation route in Southern California became the first confirmed fire-related casualty in a series of raging wildfires that could gain strength this weekend. Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday was due to visit Ventura County, home to the largest of the six wildfires, the Thomas Fire. He'll survey damage, meet with affected residents, consult with government officials and emergency responders, and brief reporters, his office said. His visit comes as strong Santa Ana winds this weekend could fuel the flames, the National Weather Service said. Wind gusts in the region will be 35 to 55 mph through Sunday, CNN meteorologist Rachel Aissen said. The forecast could challenge firefighters, who by Friday had made progress against the Thomas Fire, officials said. "With this break in the weather, we've made good progress, but that progress is [...]

December 9th, 2017|0 Comments