You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Thomas fire, California's largest on record, finally 100% contained

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 1/12/2018 Michael Livingston, Shelby Grad

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, CAL FIRE Inmate Firefighting Hand Crew members hike through the charred landscape on their way to work east of Gibraltar Road above Montecito, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Officials estimate that the fire will grow to become the biggest in California history before full containment, expected by Jan. 7. California Wildfires The Thomas fire, the largest wildfire on record in California and the trigger point for this week’s deadly mudslides in Montecito, was declared 100% contained Friday.

The fire burned for more than a month, though its spread was contained several weeks ago. Heavy rains earlier this week, which caused land burned by the fire to create mudflows that buried neighborhoods, helped fully extinguish the blaze. In the end, the fire burned 281,893 acres.

The fire eclipsed the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County, which burned 273,246 acres.

The milestone reaffirmed 2017 as the most destructive fire season in the state. In October, a series of fires in wine country burned more than 10,000 homes and killed more than 40 people.

Those blazes, along with the Thomas fire, were fueled by dry conditions and intense winds.

a person riding a snow board in the dark © Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times Despite its size, the Thomas fire has been less destructive than either the wine country fires or the Cedar fire, which destroyed 2,820 structures and killed 15 people.

The Thomas fire claimed just over 1,000 structures, and two deaths were attributed to the blaze. Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead in a car that crashed along an evacuation route in Ventura County on Dec. 6, and San Diego fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, was killed battling the fire on Dec. 14.

The fire broke out in the foothills above Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula on Dec. 4. Fueled by 50 mph winds, the fire swept into downtown Ventura, burning hundreds of homes that first morning.

For the next two weeks, the blaze ebbed and flowed with the winds. It swept into the Ojai Valley but spared the resort town. Then it moved up the southern Santa Barbara County coast, where firefighters made a stand in the hills above Montecito.

This week, that same area was devastated by deadly mudflows that killed at least 17 people and destroyed scores of homes.

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon