Published at 6:59 AM PST on Dec 21, 2017 | Updated at 7:31 AM PST on Dec 21, 2017
A few days and the tireless efforts of thousands of firefighters have made a significant difference for Southern Californians. Images from NASA satellites show sharp contrasts in the amount of smoke billowing from the Thomas fire, one of the largest wildfires on record in California.
The fire began Dec. 4 and quickly burned about 60,000 acres in Ventura County. Fanned by strong wind gusts, the fire marched into Santa Barbara County, producing flare-ups that sent more smoke across the region.
But this week's decreased winds allowed firefighters to gain ground on the 272,000-acre fire -- the second-largest on record in California, behind only the devastating 2003 Cedar fire. Below, NASA imagery spanning the first 15 days of the fire show its smoke plume come and go.