Past wildfires playing a proactive role in battle against Thomas - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Past wildfires playing a proactive role in battle against Thomas Fire

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As the Thomas Fire heads into its second weekend, some of the flames are running into burn scars from previous fires. 

The fire has touched several burn areas from previous years, including the Zaca Fire from 2007 in Santa Barbara County and the Day Fire from Ventura County in 2006.

Amber Anderson, a public information officer on the Thomas Fire, says once the Thomas Fire hits those burn areas, the fire tends to scale back, which works in the fire crews' favor.

"One of the opportunities that we're using to our advantage are old burn scars from some of the fires we have in the area," Anderson said.

On Friday, fire crews were gearing up for what is forecast to be an intense weekend when it comes to the weather forecast.

Anderson says the back and front countries of Santa Barbara County tells a story about how the Thomas Fire could be contained.

"When that fire, the Thomas Fire, burned into that Zaca Fire burn, the fire slowed down and in some places put itself out," Anderson said.

This is good news for firefighters. Hand crews and hotshot crews are continuing their work in the dense vegetation to establish containment.

Currently, ahead of the fire line to the west is where the Tea Fire burned in 2008. Next to it, the Jesusita Fire that burned a year later.

"Those fuels are very young, very immature so they're more susceptible to these weather changes that we get in terms of our dry weather. It's gonna get smaller fuels prior to drier, heavy fuels," Anderson said.

Back in 2006, and on the northeastern side of the Thomas Fire, there's a burn area from the Day Fire in Ventura County. Anderson says when the Thomas Fire met that line, the fire really slowed down and almost stopped. A direct example, she says, of how these burn scars help when it comes to the firefight.

Right now, the Thomas Fire sits as the fourth largest wildfire in California's history. Anderson says that has the potential to change.

For scale, officials say the Thomas Fire is nearly 58,000 acres larger than New York City, which is about 195,000 acres.

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