Redding firefighter suffers broken leg while working Thomas Fire

Thomas Fire Destroys Ventura Home Homeowner Grateful for Family's Safety
Thomas Fire Destroys Ventura Home

12 December, 2017

A spate of California wildfires have destroyed an area larger than New York City and Boston - combined.

"This fire literally started on the first day of our Santa Ana wind event, which it couldn't have started on a worse day", said Capt. Steve Kaufmann of the Ventura County Fire Department.

Some people have already left the area under threat from Thomas after the intermittent closure of the main coastal road last week because of the flames.

Setbacks: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties until Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said. And with the Santa Ana winds dying down, officials say the smoke could stick around for a while.

Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni told KSBY crews are suffering from eye irritation due to heavy smoke and ash.

This article is no longer being updated as of 2:30 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 10.

Kaufmann said the fire "blew up" very aggressively overnight into Santa Barbara County.

One death has been connected to the wildfires so far.

Officials determined late Friday that a 70-year-old Ventura County woman who died after a vehicle crash along an evacuation route on Wednesday suffered smoke inhalation and burns, the Ventura County Star newspaper reported, citing medical examiner Christopher Young. It started Monday in Ventura County, and has since spread into Santa Barbara County.

The Los Angeles Daily News estimates roughly 159,000 acres of land have been burned by six main fires. Almost 1,000 homes and other structures have been either damaged or destroyed.

Officials said that by Saturday the Thomas Fire had charred 59,893 hectares (148,000 acres), an area about the size of Chicago.

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In total, the fires have displaced almost 90,000 people and destroyed roughly 800 structures, The Los Angeles Times reported. Although the Thomas Fire is still raging, most of the smaller fires are being gradually brought under control, officials said.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department had seven strike teams assigned to the Thomas fire.

The blaze was 90 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and 1,964 personnel are fighting the flames.

Liberty Fire: The blaze in Riverside County has burned 300 acres since it ignited Thursday. It's 100% contained, but authorities are monitoring it ahead of a forecast increase in winds.

Calfornia Governor Jerry Brown issued emergency proclamations last week for Santa Barbara, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, freeing up additional resources to fight the fires.

Several celebrities with homes in the endangered region thanked firefighters for their courageous efforts.

Firefighters have been diverted from other parts of the state to help tackle the new outbreak near Santa Barbara. "And then at the same time, we were like, 'OK, my family's OK. I'm praying for everyone in our community and thankful to all the incredible firefighters", DeGeneres said.

Knapp was sure he had seen his house burn on the television news, so he was expecting the worst when he snuck past a police barricade to witness the damage and was surprised to find it still standing.

A spokesman for DeGeneres declined to provide any other details on Monday. But, she said of her belongings and home, "none of that means anything when it is your safety".

Retired tennis player Jimmy Connors' said the Thomas Fire was also threatening his home, tweeting his thanks to the firefighters "working tirelessly".

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