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Crews gain on huge California fire but wind threat remains

  • In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a member of a Santa Barbara County Fire Crew keeps an eye on a bulldozer building a fire break in the hills above Bella Vista Drive in Montecito, Calif., as the fight against a wildfire the continues Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The fifth-largest wildfire in California history expanded Tuesday, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP) Mike Eliason

  • In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, fire burns canyons and ridges above Bella Vista Drive near Romero Canyon as the fight to contain a wildfire continues in Montecito, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The fifth-largest wildfire in California history expanded Tuesday, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP) Mike Eliason

  • In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a Santa Barbara County Fire Crew rests after cutting a fuel break above Bella Vista Drive in Montecito, Calif., as a helicopter makes a water drop on flames as the fight against a wildfire continues Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP) Mike Eliason

  • In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a helicopter makes water drop near a house that was not on fire on a hill above Bella Vista Drive in Montecito, Calif., as the fight to contain a wildfire continues Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The fifth-largest wildfire in California history expanded Tuesday, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP) Mike Eliason

  • In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, flames erupt on the hillside above Bella Vista Drive in Montecito, Calif., as the fight to contain a wildfire continues Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The fifth-largest wildfire in California history expanded Tuesday, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP) Mike Eliason

  • In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a Cal Fire firefighter looks over a map from the back of his truck parked off Bella Vista Drive above Montecito, Calif., as the fight against a wildfire continues Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The fifth-largest wildfire in California history expanded Tuesday, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP) Mike Eliason

  • In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, with Montecito, Calif. and the Pacific Ocean in the distance, a helicopter hovers over a reservoir to fill a bucket with water as the fight against a wildfire continues Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The fifth-largest wildfire in California history expanded Tuesday, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP) Mike Eliason

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017 file photo, flames sweep up a steep canyon wall, threatening homes on a ridge line as the Skirball wildfire swept through the Bel Air district of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Fire Department said Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, that the wildfire that destroyed six homes and damaged a dozen more last week in the exclusive Bel Air section of Los Angeles was sparked by an illegal cooking fire in a homeless encampment. No one was in the camp, and no arrests have been made. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File) Reed Saxon

  • This photo by Marianna Burdon, posted on her husband Eric Burdon's Facebook page on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, shows the famed musician and singer's handprint and signature in the ash that had fallen on their Ojai, Calif., home that they evacuated in advance of the Thomas fire. Their home survived, but they remained evacuated Tuesday, Dec. 12, due to smoke and ash in the air. Last week, Burdon wrote on Facebook about having to flee and returning temporarily to find their home still standing with ashes all around. "A week like this gives you the perspective that life is what truly matters," he wrote (Marianna Burdon via AP) Marianna Burdon


Associated Press
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

After announcing increased containment on one of the biggest wildfires in California history, officials warned that communities remain at risk and the threat could increase as unpredictable winds whip up again.

Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended, with a possible increase in gusts into the end of the week.

Evacuations continued Wednesday for the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria and the inland town of Fillmore.

Officials announced Tuesday night that crews had carved containment lines around one-quarter of the blaze straddling Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The so-called Thomas fire has burned over 900 structures, at least 700 of them homes, since it broke out Dec. 4. It stretches across nearly 370 square miles of Southern California, making it the fifth largest in state history.

Elsewhere, fire officials announced that a cooking fire at a homeless encampment sparked a blaze last week that destroyed six homes in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Arson investigators determined that the so-called Skirball fire near the world-famous Getty museum was started by an illegal fire at a camp near a freeway underpass, city fire Capt. Erik Scott said.