Wildfire Is Now Second Biggest in Calif. History

Thomas fire is still only 55% contained
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2017 2:30 AM CST
In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a pilot takes his firefighting helicopter back to fill its bucket with water while working near Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara, Calif.,...   (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
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(Newser) – A wildfire that has burned hundreds of homes in coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles is now the second-largest blaze in California history. State fire officials say the 425-square-mile Thomas fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is slightly larger than the 2012 Rush fire in Lassen County, the AP reports. The fire, which was only 55% contained as of Tuesday night, is about 1,200 acres smaller than the state's largest fire ever measured. That blaze, the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego, killed 15 people. A firefighter and a fleeing civilian have died in the Thomas fire, which broke out on Dec. 4. It continues to threaten 18,000 homes and other buildings. Firefighters say decreasing winds and higher humidity are helping them, but brush in the area remains tinder-dry.

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