The Wrangler

Thomas Fire Continues to Spread

Santa+Ana+winds+have+created+a+giant+blaze+in+Southern+California.
Santa Ana winds have created a giant blaze in Southern California.

Santa Ana winds have created a giant blaze in Southern California.

Photo Courtesy of AccuWeather

Photo Courtesy of AccuWeather

Santa Ana winds have created a giant blaze in Southern California.

Courtney Poon, Photojournalist

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Thomas Fire: a small wildfire that soon evolved into a monstrous inferno larger than New York City. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), as of December 11 only 20% of Thomas Fire had been contained. At 230,000 acres, it has become the fifth largest wildfire in modern California history, and it shows no signs of stopping. At a community meeting in Santa Barbara, officials offered some hope: the fire grew by only 500 acres on Monday, they said, a development aided by good weather and air tankers dropped fire retardant in the proximity of the fire.

Unfortunately there have been multiple casualties due to the fire. On December 14, CAL FIRE confirmed that a firefighter tragically died while responding to the inferno. The Thomas fire has also destroyed 524 structures and damaged 135 in the city of Ventura. The fire consumed six structures on Sunday in Carpinteria, authorities said. 46 horses were killed at a thoroughbred training facility, San Luis Rey Downs. At least 869 structures have been destroyed, including 683 single-family homes, two multi-family residences and 14 commercial or mixed-use properties. At least 191 structures have been damaged, and 18,000 are threatened (CNN).

The Santa Ana winds and dry air have also spurred multiple other fires including the Liberty fire, Rye fire, Creek fire, Skirball fire, and Lilac fire. These fires, unlike the Thomas Fire, have either been fully contained or are close to being contained.

Though the Freeway Complex Fire from 2008 was not as widespread as the Thomas Fire is, students have been able to relate to the terrors the residents of Ventura County and Santa Barbara County must be going through. Maddox Nieto (11) states, “I remember having to evacuate my house and stay with my cousins during [the Freeway Complex Fire]. Thankfully, my house was not touched, but it was still a scary experience. I feel sorry for those affected by the Thomas Fire and I hope they stay safe.” Rianna Patel (11) adds, “Evacuating for the 2008 fire was so scary, especially because I was only about eight or nine. I can’t imagine what it is like to lose everything you own in a fire.”

Despite the loss, it is inspiring to see the efforts of the incredible firefighters and the community coming together. The Wrangler is optimistic that the fire will be contained soon and we thank the firefighters that tirelessly work to put it out.

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Thomas Fire Continues to Spread