The Thomas Fire is now the largest wildfire in California’s recorded history, burning 273,400 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.
Despite more than 2,500 firefighters still battling the blaze, it remains only 65 percent contained. 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. Weather is helping, as increased humidity and lowered winds aid the crews.
As residents return from evacuated areas, the government warned that Santa Barbara and Venture counties may seen an increase in wildlife in local communities. Residents were warned to keep their distance and contact animal control about any perceived threats.
The Thomas Fire was concentrated near the celebrity havens of Montecito and Santa Barbara, with more than 100,000 people evacuated and damages to date estimated at more than $120 million. At least two deaths, including one firefighter, have been attributed to the Thomas Fire.
Montecito is home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Barrymore, Jeff Bridges, Rob Lowe, Malcolm McDowell, Al Gore, Megyn Price, Eric Schmidt, Jane Seymour and Patrick Stewart.
The Thomas Fire surpassed the size of the Cedar Fire near San Diego, which destroyed 273,246 acres in 2003. The Thomas Fire began on December 4 and expanded rapidly from strong Santa Ana winds in Ventura County.