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Thomas Fire Tops 50,000 Acres; Voluntary Evacuation Order In Place For Ojai Valley

(Ventura County Fire Department Air Unit)
Helicopter helps fight the Thomas brush fire

Ventura County’s Thomas Fire continues to burn out of control, topping the 50,000 acre mark.

The latest development Tuesday afternoon is a mandatory evacuation order for Casitas Springs, and a voluntary evacuation order for the Ojai Valley area.

Officially, Ventura County fire officials say we’ve lost more than 150 homes. But, that’s the same number which came from Tuesday morning, and we’ve know that many more homes and buildings have burned since them. More than a thousand firefighters aided by aircraft are fighting the fire. But, resources are being stretched, with two other major brush fires burning in Southern California.

27,000 people remain under mandatory evacuation orders. Evacuation centers remain open at Nordhoff High School in Ojai, and at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. The Governor has followed through on local declarations, and the county has been officially declared a disaster area.

The Thomas Fire began just after 6:30 last night off of Highway 150, near Thomas Aquinas College. That’s between Santa Paula, and Ojai. Strong Santa Ana winds quickly spread the inferno, which moved to the southwest, destroying a number of homes in Ventura. Highway 150 remains closed between Santa Paula, and Ojai. Highway 33 was closed by the fire northwest of Ventura this morning, but it has since reopened.

The wind eased up slightly early Tuesday morning, but then picked up in many areas through the day. The extended forecast calls for the Santa Anas to be with us on and off through the work week until the wind wraps up Friday. Wednesday night and Thursday could pose particular problems for the region, with a spike in wind speeds possible.