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article imageFirefighters lose control as Thomas fire grows larger

By Karen Graham     Dec 11, 2017 in Environment
Carpinteria - The Thomas fire in Southern California has now become the fifth-largest wildfire on record in the state. Containment of the massive blaze slipped from 15 to 10 percent as high winds spread the fire from Ventura County into Santa Barbara County.
The out-of-control Thomas Fire, just one of several fires burning in southern California has now consumed 230,000 acres (930 square kilometers) in the past week, an area larger than New York City.
On Sunday, the fire grew by over 50,000 acres during the day, triggering new evacuation orders for an additional 5,000 residents, including families east of Mission Canyon and north of Highway 192. Another 30,000 residents west of Mission Canyon to Highway 154 and south of Highway 192 to the county line were told to prepare to evacuate.
An aircraft drops retardant over  burning embers and small fires on top of a mountain in Fillmore  C...
An aircraft drops retardant over burning embers and small fires on top of a mountain in Fillmore, California on December 8, 2017, on the eastern edge of the Thomas Fire in Ventura County
FREDERIC J. BROWN, AFP
The Los Angeles Times is reporting the blaze has destroyed 524 structures and damaged 135 in the city of Ventura. In the unincorporated areas of Ventura County, 266 structures have been destroyed, while 56 were damaged, according to local authorities.
In the beach town of Carpinteria, which firefighters have been trying to protect, six structures have already been lost to the flames. The fire is moving west above the city, consuming vegetation that hasn't been burned in over 100 years. “The fuels in there are thick and they’re dead so they’re very receptive to fire," said Steve Swindle, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
Exhausted firefighters have their first rest in over 20 hours since starting to fight the Lilac Fire...
Exhausted firefighters have their first rest in over 20 hours since starting to fight the Lilac Fire, December 8, 2017, in Bonsall, California
Robyn Beck, AFP
Containment of blaze is difficult
The Santa Ana winds have seemingly been never-ending and with the extremely dry humidity they carry, have presented a major problem for firefighters trying to contain the inferno. Another problem is the location and mountainous terrain. "This is a menacing fire, certainly, but we have a lot of people working very diligently to bring it under control," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said, reports the BBC.
At least 200,000 residents have been forced to leave their homes as the seven wildfires rage through the region, going into the second week. "The winds are kind of squirrely right now," said county fire spokesman Mike Eliason, per the Associated Press. "Some places the smoke is going straight up in the air, and others it's blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we're in."
Firefighters working structure protection atop Shepard Mesa Road in Carpinteria keep a close eye on ...
Firefighters working structure protection atop Shepard Mesa Road in Carpinteria keep a close eye on nearby flames Sunday morning at 4 am.
Sanra Barbara County/Fire Information
More about Thomas Fire, California, Containment, santa ana winds, humidity