The Wrangler

Thomas Fire Still Burns

The+Thomas+Fire+continues+to+devastate+Santa+Barbara+County.
The Thomas Fire continues to devastate Santa Barbara County.

The Thomas Fire continues to devastate Santa Barbara County.

Mark Eliason

Mark Eliason

The Thomas Fire continues to devastate Santa Barbara County.

Paige Weingarten, Editor-in-Chief

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Winter has seemed to arrive everywhere but California this December as the past few weeks have seen the Golden Coast engulfed in raging flames from several wildfires across the state. The return of unseasonably high temperatures and the powerful gusts of the Santa Ana Winds have created the perfect breeding ground for the fires to begin. Firefighters and first responders have worked for days on end to try and contain, but despite their  best efforts, the now third largest wildfire in California’s recent history, the Thomas Fire, continues to  burn.

Located on the coast of Santa Barbara County, the Thomas fire has been burning since December 4th and has now reached 269,000 acres despite being only 40% contained as of Sunday morning (MSN). The blaze has threatened more than 18,000 pieces of infrastructure and even prompted colleges and universities in the area to postpone upcoming finals due to evacuations.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson described the fire as “a beast,” but the over 8,500 firefighters from divisions all across California are working tirelessly through the days and nights to kill it (Fox News). Evacuations have spanned almost the entire Santa Barbara County and several surrounding areas, including the Montecito area, which is home to the residences of celebrities such as Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres.

Strong wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour are the biggest obstacle facing the firefighters, as the direction and strength of the Santa Ana winds can be unpredictable and cause the fire to shift quickly. The upcoming week’s forecast predicts cooler temperatures and a decrease in wind strength, so hopefully the first responders can take advantage of this time and continue to work extremely hard to put out this natural disaster. Madison Preston (12) believes that it is truly “disheartening how frequent these events have become over the past few months.” She also mentions that its “unfortunate” that the intensity of this fire resulted in UC Santa Barbara sending their students home on an early start to the holiday break.

Unfortunately, wildfires are a common threat to California, and the often dry and temperate climate can lead to many outbreaks like the Thomas Fire. One can only hope that Mother Nature will concede and the brave firemen and women will be able to stop the inferno.

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