Winds, dry conditions to hamper efforts
to tame California wildfire
Send a link to a friend
[December 13, 2017]
By Ben Gruber
CARPINTERIA, Calif. (Reuters) - Powerful
gusts of wind and bone dry conditions will remain overriding concerns
for Californian firefighters on Wednesday as they seek to tame a huge
blaze that has destroyed hundreds of homes.
The Thomas Fire has traveled 27 miles (43 km) since it began on Dec. 4
to become the fifth-largest wildfire in state history. It has charred
more than 368 square miles (953 square km) of Ventura and Santa Barbara
counties, an area larger than New York City.
A break in the hot, dry winds on Tuesday sapped the fire's forward
momentum and allowed crews to prevent further damage to homes.
But adverse weather will "promote significant fire growth (and) ...
hamper control efforts" on Wednesday, the California Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said in an evening advisory.
The fire, which was 25 percent contained, will continue to threaten the
coastal communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland and
Montecito as powerful Santa Ana wind gusts and humidity of less than 10
percent will remain in the forecast until Friday, Cal Fire and the
National Weather Service said.
Some of the 7,800 firefighters deployed against the blaze on Tuesday
took advantage of the better weather to set controlled burns in a canyon
near Carpinteria to deprive the flames of fuel, Cal Fire Captain Steve
In Washington, where members of the House of Representatives met Vice
President Mike Pence to discuss the crisis, Representative Julia
Brownley said all resources had arrived to fight the blaze, which could
take another week to contain. Her district includes Ventura.
[to top of second column]
Thomas wildfire burns above Bella Vista Drive near Romero Canyon in
this social media photo by Santa Barbara County Fire Department in
Montecito, California, U.S. December 12, 2017. Courtesy Mike
Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS
The Thomas Fire has so far destroyed 701 homes and displaced more
than 94,000 people. Efforts to combat the flames have cost more than
Many public schools in Santa Barbara and school districts nearby
have canceled classes this week and will not reopen until the annual
winter break is completed in January.
Some of other fires burning over the past week in San Diego and Los
Angeles counties have been largely brought under control.
The Los Angeles Fire Department said on Tuesday that investigators
had determined that the Skirball Fire, which destroyed six homes in
the city's Bel-Air community, was started by a cooking fire at a
homeless encampment underneath a freeway.
(Additonal reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; editing by
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.