Ventura County

Destructive 115,000-Acre Thomas Fire Prompts State of Emergency

Shifting winds Friday are going to make the fire's movements unpredictable, hampering the firefight

What to Know

  • As of Thursday evening, 115,000 acres have been scorched and over 50,000 residents have been evacuated
  • Firefighters are bracing for shifting winds Friday, making firefighting more difficult
  • Some 2,600 firefighters were battling the fire

This article is no longer being updated. For the latest information on the Thomas Fire, click here.

This article was last updated at 5:20 a.m., Friday Dec. 8, 2017.

As the Thomas Fire has charred more than 115,000 acres in Ventura County, firefighters were bracing for a tough battle Friday against flames driven by unpredictable, clocking winds and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in Santa Barbara County.

Even though the Santa Ana "devil" winds are expected to die down Friday, officials fear that shifting winds with gusts up to 30 mph, and warmer, drier conditions could pose problems fighting the fire.

"Another challenging day tomorrow," said Tim Chavez, a fire behavior analyst for CalFire. "But we won't have the long distance runs and high intensity runs that we saw today."

Some 2,600 firefighters were battling the fire. Some 427 structures were destroyed and 85 structures were damaged in the city of Ventura. A dozen structures have been destroyed in unincorporated Ventura County and inspectors continue to assess the damage.

On Thursday, fire crews expanded their evacuation areas into the Filmore area on the eastern side of the fire. But overall, the fire has slowed and crews were able to get a hand on that flank.

Along the southern front, crews were mopping up the fire and are planning on canceling evacuations for Ventura.

The fire was still active along the west end of the fire and patrols swept along Highway 33 and the 101 Freeway dousing hot spots.

The fire continued to inch toward Santa Barbara, but officials were hopeful they could contain the fire on that front.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said officials have changed their evacuation order to mandatory for parts of Carpinteria near Highway 192, north of Highway 150.

"We're preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best in Santa Barbara," he said. "But we recognize that this is an incident that's going to be going on for many days and we're preparing to deal with it and address it."

Brown requested a Presidential Emergency Declaration for federal assistance for the fires burning in Southern California, following emergency proclamations issued this week for San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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