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Thomas Fire officials: 'We've secured the Santa Barbara side of - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Thomas Fire officials: 'We've secured the Santa Barbara side of the fire'

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Helicopter drops retardant near a firing operation 12/19/20 (Los Padres National Forest Photo) Helicopter drops retardant near a firing operation 12/19/20 (Los Padres National Forest Photo)

UPDATE (4:00 a.m.) - Winds are calm at the Thomas Fire early Thursday morning after a predicted wind event swept through the area last night. 

KSBY crews on scene report no visible glow of flames or gusty winds. 

Winds did pick up enough Wednesday evening to potentially blow embers that could ignite spot fires. 

A red flag warning is in effect in the Thomas Fire area until 10:00 a.m. Thursday. 

Fire officials will update the public on any increase in acreage at about 6:00 a.m. Thursday. 

Watch KSBY Daybreak 5-7 a.m. for the latest on the Thomas Fire. 


UPDATE (6:25 p.m.) - Fire officials say they continue to make significant progress when it comes to containing the Thomas Fire but they remain cautious because of the strengthening winds Wednesday evening.

They say weather is the driving force behind fire behavior and the extreme fire behavior we've been experiencing this month rivals that seen during the traditional fire season.

There are reportedly 155 engines and 38 hand crews currently in place above the foothills of Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria. Fire officials say they will remain on scene in those areas throughout the night, constantly monitoring the weather situation.

The fire remained at 272,000 acres and 60 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.


UPDATE (4:10 p.m.) - At a community meeting at San Marcos High School on Wednesday, fire officials said they've secured the Santa Barbara side of the Thomas Fire, although the true test of that would occur Wednesday night when the winds were expected to pick up again.

Santa Barbara County Fire Battalion Chief Chris Childers said the wind would bring a lot of ash into the area, but they are not expecting to see more fire. He said they are hoping to allow people to return home on Thursday.

Approximately 16,000 people remain under evacuation orders and 12,000 are in evacuation warning zones. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said they are constantly evaluating repopulation and the lifting of those orders based on the wind forecast.

Childers added that Wednesday's community meeting would be the last.

A "resource and recovery assistance" event for those affected by the Thomas Fire was also announced for this Friday, Dec. 22 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Carpinteria Middle School located at 5351 Carpinteria Avenue. County officials and other experts will be available to answer questions about rebuilding, insurance, hazardous materials removal, and more.


UPDATE (2 p.m.) - Firefighters at the Thomas Fire are keeping a close watch on the forecast as winds begin to increase in southern Santa Barbara County.


UPDATE (8 a.m.) - Fire officials have released an updated map of the Thomas Fire. 


As of Wednesday morning, the Thomas Fire has burned 272,000 acres and is 60 percent contained. 

The fire did not grow overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

Fire officials are cautiously optimistic that crews will keep the blaze under their control despite red flag conditions and high winds Wednesday. 

More than 6,500 firefighters are on scene. 

Damage assessment teams have found over 1,000 structures lost in the fire since it started on December 4. 

More evacuation orders may change as containment continues to increase. 

Fire officials believe the Thomas Fire will be fully contained by January 7. 

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