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Thomas Fire flares up to 267,500 acres, 40% contained - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Thomas Fire flares up to 267,500 acres, 40% contained

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A newer version of this story is available. For Sunday's updates on the fire, click here


Update (4:15 a.m.) - The red flag warning and wind advisories are canceled for Santa Barbara County. The winds are calm, only a small glow visible from Montecito and Santa Barbara areas. A red flag warning remains in effect in Ventura County through this evening. Fire officials say the Fillmore area will be focused on today. 


UPDATE (10 p.m.) - SoCal Edison says 1,255 customers are without power in the Montecito area. Another 594 customers are in the dark in other areas due to Thomas Fire. Infrastructure damage so far: 768 damaged power poles, 582 replaced power poles.


UPDATE (8:30 p.m.) - Helicopters are making night drops, according to Thomas Fire Public Information Officer Brandon Vaccaro. The pilots wear night vision goggles and are helping out crews on the hotter divisions of the fire.

Vaccaro said the extreme fire behavior crews are experiencing is within what was predictive at this time yesterday, before the winds increased.


UPDATE (8:15 p.m.) - Westmont College President Gayle Beebe reports no structures on campus and no faculty homes have been lost so far. Earlier in the day, fire crews left campus, saying fire conditions were unsafe. The Tea Fire in 2008 burned several campus buildings.


UPDATE (7 p.m.) - Voluntary evacuations issued for Painted Cave area, including area north of Highway 154 and south of East Camino Cielo. 


UPDATE (6 p.m.) - The Thomas Fire has grown to 267,500 acres and is 40-percent contained.


UPDATE (4:45 p.m.) - Watch Saturday's full community meeting on the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara below:


UPDATE (4:30 p.m.) - Evacuation orders are shown in purple in the map below, while evacuation warning areas are shown in blue.

An interactive map of the evacuation zones can also be viewed here.

UPDATE (2:30 p.m.) - The Mandatory evacuation orders for Clear Point and Ondulando neighborhoods in Ventura County have been lifted.  

There's a community meeting at Buena High School Auditorium (5670 Telegraph Rd. Ventura) at 3:00 p.m. 


UPDATE (2 p.m.) - Highway 101 off-ramps will be closed for an unknown period of time due to the Thomas Fire.

N/B US-101 Offramps - south to north

1. Padaro/Santa Claus Ln.

2. Evans St.

3. Sheffield Dr.

4. San Ysidro Rd.

5. Olive Mill Rd.

6. Hermosillo Rd.

7. Cabrillo Bl./Hot Springs Rd.


UPDATE (1:20 p.m.) - People flying into or out of the Santa Barbara Airport this weekend are advised to check the status of their flights.

The airport reports that while it remains open, United Airlines has canceled its remaining flights for Saturday.

Flights with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have continued to arrive as scheduled.


UPDATE (1:16 p.m.) - 100 foot flame lengths above the Camino Cielo area on the western edge of the fire. Winds about 20 to 30 miles per hour.


UPDATE (1:15 p.m.) - Highway 101 north now open at Seacliff in Ventura County. 


UPDATE (12:35 p.m.) - Information in both English and Spanish from Santa Barbara County related to the Thomas Fire can be found at CountyofSB.org. People can also dial 211 for updated information on evacuations, resources and closures.

For evacuation transportation help, call (805) 681-5542.

For those in need of emergency evacuation assistance, call 911.

Authorities ask people to not call dispatch. 


UPDATE (12:15 p.m.) - 


UPDATE (12:10 p.m.) - 


UPDATE (11:50 a.m.) - New evacuation orders have been issued for the following areas:

Voluntary Evacuation Orders:

- Parts of the Montecito area including all areas south of Highway 101 to the Pacific Ocean and east of the zoo (Ninos Drive) to San Ysidro Road.  Residents should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.

-Parts of Santa Barbara City including the area from Constance/Alamedaa Padre Serra/South Salinas on the north and east, Highway 101 on the south, and West Mission Street to State Street on the west.  Residents should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. 

Mandatory Evacuation Orders:

- All areas east of Highway 154, south of East Camino Cielo, west of Toro Canyon and north of Highway 101 at Toro Canyon to South Salinas then north of Alamed Padre Serra and to Highway 192 West to SR 154.  

The previous evacuation order for the area east of Toro Canyon to Casitas Pass Road north of Highway 192 and south of East Camino Cielo remains in effect.


UPDATE (11:30 a.m.) - 


UPDATE (11:20 a.m.) - A new voluntary evacuation warning has been issued for parts of Santa Barbara south of Highway 192, west of Mission Canyon Road, north of State Street, east of Nomad Village/San Vicente Mobile Home Park.  If you are in this area, be prepared to leave at any time.

If you are in a warning or mandatory evacuation area and need transportation assistance to get out of the area, you are urged to call the Thomas Fire Community Call-in line at 805-681-5542 or you can text 805-729-6538.  Please state your specific transportation assistance need in the call or text.


UPDATE (10:45 a.m.) - Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for the following areas:

- Santa Barbara City in the area east of Highway 154 to Mission Canyon Road and north of Highway 192 to East Camino Cielo

- Santa Barbara City and Montecito north of Alameda Padre Serra/Highway 101, south of Highway 192, east of Mission Canyon Road, and west of Hot Springs and Summit Road.

Evacuation warnings have been issued for the following areas:

- The area from Constance/Alameda Padre Serra/South Salinas on the north and east, Highway 101 on the south, and West Mission Street to State Street on the west.

- All areas south of Highway 101 to the coast and east of the zoo to San Ysidro Road.  If you are in this area be prepared to leave.


UPDATE (10:30 a.m.) - Fire officials have lifted the mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders in the City of Ventura.


Traffic update: 

UPDATE (9:45 a.m.) -  3,700 customers in Montecito were without power for a brief period of time this morning. The majority of the power has been restored.

More than 400 other customers are affected in other areas due to the Thomas Fire.


A community meeting is planned for 4 p.m. at San Marcos High School located at 4750 Hollister Avenue in Santa Barbara.

Update (9:30 a.m.) -  New evacuation warning: West of SB City: N. San Marcos Rd. to 154, north of Cathedral Oaks to intersection 154 & N San Marcos Rd. Prepare to Leave.

Here's the latest map:


UPDATE (9 a.m.) - New voluntary evacuation warnings issued for parts of Santa Barbara City from W. Mission Street, east to S. Salinas Street, from Hwy 101 to Alameda Padre Serra. If you are in this area, prepare to leave.


UPDATE (8:40 a.m.) - New mandatory evacuation orders for the Montecito and Summerland areas. 

South of Highway 192, North of 101, West of Toro Canyon, East of Summit Road and County Club


UPDATE (8:30 a.m.) - New mandatory evacuation orders:


UPDATE (8:15 a.m.) - Captain Dave Zaniboni of Santa Barbara County Fire Department says fire conditions remain very severe, erratic. The flames are blowing into the lower foothills of Montecito. Structures are threatened in that area.

The winds are expected to remain the same all day. It will be a very active day of firefighting. Those in mandatory evacuation zones must leave now and those in voluntary evacuation zones must be ready to leave at a moment's notice. Captain Zaniboni says more evacuations are expected in the hours to come.


UPDATE (8 a.m.) - Power outages reported in downtown Montecito area. 

Firefighters are leaving the area near Westmont College in Montecito due to the dangerous fire activity.  

Five Cities Fire Authority is heading to the Thomas Fire to help with structure protection.


UPDATE (7:30 a.m.) - The Thomas Fire is actively burning in the Hot Springs drainage & along the N side of Santa Ynez range & running uphill. All current evacuation orders & warnings remain in place, but may change at moments notice. Please continue to remain vigilant & be prepared.

Fire officials say the fire is doing what they did not want it to do. It's moving west, down the foothills of Montecito. The winds are pushing west, southwest. 

The first priority is structure protection. 

Those in mandatory evacuation zones need to leave now including anyone north of the 192. 


UPDATE (6:15 a.m.) - The Thomas Fire has burned 259,000 acres and is 40% contained.

Fire officials say the 5% of containment added was in the back country area in Fillmore.

It's now the 3rd largest fire in California history. The fire is just 14,000 acres away from being the first largest which is San Diego's 2003 Cedar Fire (273,246 acres).

Ten of the largest wildfires have been over the past ten years.

A total of 1,009 structures have been destroyed from the Thomas Fire. 18,000 structures are threatened. 94,607 residents have been evacuated. 

Fire officials say the winds are not as bad as they expected.

8,369 fire personnel are assigned to the incident.

It's cost $103.9 million to fight the blaze. 

Thomas Fire Public Information Officer, Amber Anderson says the wind conditions have shifted. The smoke column is now coming out of the east from the northeast winds.

The wind is expected to make a shift to the northwest later in the day.

Critical fire weather combined with very high fuel loading, critically low fuel moistures, and single-digit relative humidities will continue to support fire growth on the west, east and north sides of the fire. Areas of concern are above the coastal Santa Barbara County communities, Matilija Wilderness, Rose Valley, and Sespe river drainage north of Fillmore. 

Santa Barbara County: 

Firefighters will continue constructing direct fireline where possible with support from air resources, working to tie in to the Tea Fire and Jesusita Fire Footprints. Crews will remain engaged in structure defense operations. The threat to the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito will continue.

Ventura County: 

In the east, firefighters will improve the fireline that has been established to keep the fire out of the outlying areas of Fillmore. Indirect line extending north from Fillmore will continue, in preparation for future firing operations. To the north, fire spread within the areas of Bear Haven and the Day Fire will be closely monitored. 

Fireline construction north of Camino Cielo connecting to the lighter fuels of the Zaca Fire footprint will continue. Fire growth to the west, north, and east will continue where lines have not been established.

On the north side of the fire, direct line construction and firing operations will continue into Rose Valley.

Aircraft will be utilized again today. The blaze is expected to be 100% contained on January 7, 2017.

The Red Cross says approximately 280 evacuees are in their shelters at UCSB and the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

An important reminder: 


UPDATE (5 a.m.) - Conditions on the fire line are starting to change. An upright column was developing from the north winds starting to surface.

Hundreds of fire engines are staged in residential neighborhoods on the western portion of the fire in Santa Barbara County. 

Thomas Fire Public Information Officer, Amber Anderson says the main goal of the firefight on Saturday morning is to keep the blaze out of those neighborhoods.

Over the past two days, the fire burned into the Zaca Fire burn scar from 2007 which has slowed the fire down. The tactic being used is to go direct or put the firefighters on the edge of the fire as it moves westward.

Reminder: Highway 154 is closed from Cathedral Oaks Road/State Route 192 in Santa Barbara to the junction with State Route 246 near Santa Ynez from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily.

The closure is to ensure firefighters can safely travel on the highway from the staging area near Lake Cachuma. Residents who live and work within the boundaries of this closure will maintain access to Highway 154 with proper i.d.


On Saturday morning, the Thomas Fire burned more than 256,000 acres and was 35% contained.

The winds were calm overnight up until 3 a.m. That's when a glow was visible from the flames in the Montecito area.

The glow was visible from as far away as Goleta.

Fire crews remain at the homes near Buena Vista Road awaiting more winds in the hours to come.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for Santa Barbara County that went into effect at 2 a.m. It's set to last until 10 p.m.

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