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article imageThomas Fire on track to become largest fire in state's history

By Karen Graham     Dec 20, 2017 in Environment
The monstrous Thomas Fire north of Los Angeles is leaving its place in the state's record books as it is now officially the second largest fire in California history, consuming 272,000 acres (110,075 hectares).
As of Tuesday night, the wildfire which started 16 days ago has burned about 425 square miles or 19 times the size of Manhattan. Only 55 percent contained, the Thomas Fire is on track to surpass the record-holding 2003 Cedar Fire, which killed 15 people and destroyed 273,246 acres in southern San Diego.
As of Wednesday morning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced this morning that 60 percent of the fire is now contained, up from last night's 55 percent. Cooler temperatures and a rise in humidity have given firefighters a two-day window of opportunity to gain control of the blaze.
For the first time since December 4, the Red Flag warnings have come down as the Santa Ana winds have eased a bit, down to 30 to 35 mph gusts. However, the powerful winds that pushed the Thomas Fire throughout the region are expected to return on Thursday.
Cal Fire update image for Wednesday morning. Notice the wind in the palm trees.
Cal Fire update image for Wednesday morning. Notice the wind in the palm trees.
Cal Fire
The smaller fires that originated from the Thomas Fire across the region have been extinguished, providing some relief to the nearly 6,800 firefighters who have been battling the inferno. Usually, rain showers this time of year would have helped in suppressing fire activity, but it has been bone-dry.
To date, the Thomas Fire has claimed two lives, a 70-year-old Santa Paula woman and firefighter Cory Iverson, age 32. Over 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and the fire has destroyed 1,313 structures. More than 8,526 firefighters have put their lives on their line to stop it, at a cost, so far, of over $124 million.
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