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Firefighters conduct controlled burns at Thomas Fire before next - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Firefighters conduct controlled burns at Thomas Fire before next wind event

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Firefighters are racing to make progress in stopping the spread of the Thomas Fire before winds pick back up. 

With winds forecast to pick up Wednesday, crews have about 24 hours left to burn 20,000 acres under their control in an effort to push the path of the Thomas Fire into old burn scars. 

Firefighters are setting large controlled burns inside the Los Padres National Forest off Highway 33. 

Hand crews are igniting brush using drip-torches. 

Helicopters are flying overheard to keep a watchful eye on the size of the fires and make sure the controlled burns stay in control. 

Fire officials say residents may notice huge smoke plumes near Los Padres Mountain but there's no need to be alarmed. 

"We are doing this, this is planned it's been planned," said Thomas Fire Public Information Officer Jay Smith. "We don't want the public to think there's a new start. This is us and it's going according to plan."

Fire managers have been planning these firing operations for several days but had to wait to give crews the go-ahead until the winds calmed down. 

Ahead of Wednesday's predicted wind event, firefighters will also use helitorches Tuesday.

Helitorches are helicopters equipped with a torch that drops fire balls and ignites brush in canyon areas that firefighters cannot access on foot. 

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