California’s largest wildfire in state history, known as
Fire, is now 100 percent contained after more than one
month of work, officials announced Friday. In addition to
causing massive destruction, the fire also contributed to
in the region earlier this week.
The Thomas Fire began Dec. 4 outside Ventura as a series of
blazes cropped up across Southern California, but it eventually
grew to be the largest, burning through around 281,893 acres ―
or about 213,000 football fields ― in and around the Los Padres
The fire killed at least two people:
Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula and Cory Iverson,
32, a firefighter from San Diego. Over 1,000 structures
were destroyed, including many homes, and an additional 280
“Los Padres National Forest would like to thank all the first
responders and cooperators that responded to this incident over
the last month and giving up the opportunity to spend the
holidays with their families and the sacrifices they made,” a
spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.
The Thomas Fire was unusual for breaking out in
December. While California wildfires generally occur in hot
summer months, years of drought have created conditions where
such disasters can occur year-round.
A series of wildfires in Northern California became the state’s
deadliest late last year, killing more than 40 people.
After the Thomas Fire, the next-largest wildfire in the state’s
history occurred in 2003, when the Cedar Fire near San Diego
burned through 273,246 acres.
After the over flights yesterday, the Thomas Fire is now at
containment. The forest closures within the footprint of
the Thomas Fire remain
in effect until further assessments can be made and deemed
safe for the public
— Los Padres NF (@LosPadresNF)
January 12, 2018
Early Tuesday, heavy rains across the region met scorched earth
in the Thomas Fire region and triggered devastating mudslides
that killed at least 18 people as water failed to absorb into
the freshly burnt ground.
Rain water mixed with ash, branches, boulders and other debris
on the ground and ran downhill, slamming into structures and
wiping more than 100 homes away. Many people in the area
had just returned home from evacuations due to the
Fire, smoke and ash from the Thomas Fire is visible in the
hills above Montecito, California, on Dec. 13.
The Montecito region near Santa Barbara, a wealthy area
home to Oprah, Ellen
DeGeneres and other celebrities, was particularly badly
hit. Almost the entire community of Montecito ― around 10,000
people ― was under a mandatory
evacuation order Thursday as emergency responders
continued to sift through the rubble.
“The only words I can really think of to describe what it
looked [like] was it looked like a World War I battlefield,”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said of the region on
Tuesday. “It was literally a carpet of mud and debris
A house remains standing in front of an ash-filled hillside
in Montecito, California, on Dec. 20. (FREDERIC J. BROWN via
On Friday, officials warned about the potential for additional
mudslides, noting that the risk of flooding is high until
vegetation returns ― which could take five years. Both
federal and state emergency response teams are assessing the
burned areas to identify places at particular risk of flooding
or debris flow.
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