President declares 'major disaster' in Santa Barbara, Ventura co - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

President declares 'major disaster' in Santa Barbara, Ventura counties following Thomas Fire

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UPDATE - President Donald Trump has declared a "major disaster" for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties because of the Thomas Fire, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced at a press conference Tuesday evening in Ventura. The declaration will free up federal funds and assistance to help in the recovery efforts following the devastating fire.

Nielsen, along with FEMA and state emergency officials, got an aerial tour of the fire damage prior to Tuesday's press conference.

Containment Tuesday morning of California's largest fire in recorded state history remained at 92 percent.

The fire, which broke out December 4 in Ventura County before eventually making its way into Santa Barbara County, destroyed more than 1,060 structures and damaged 280 others while blackening 281,893 acres so far. 

Fire officials said Tuesday morning that fire activity remained "at a minimum," although they continue monitoring "slowly burning and smoldering pockets of fire" around the Bear Heaven and Cherry Creek areas, a place where the steep and rocky terrain makes it difficult and dangerous for firefighters to access.

However, crews say they are taking advantage of more favorable weather conditions to find and put out hot spots within the fire's perimeter.

They say no heat is currently being emitted around the Potrero Seco area.

Trails and public access areas within the Thomas Fire perimeter area remain closed and crews and equipment remain on scene along a portion of Highway 154, East Camino Cielo and around the Rose Valley area.

Close to 500 fire personnel started out the New Year still assigned to the fire.

The cause remains under investigation. 

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