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Massive Thomas Brush Fire On South Coast Shows Slight Growth Tuesday; Containment Hits 20%

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(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)
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A C-130 makes a run to drop fire retardant on the Thomas fire in Southern Santa Barbara County Monday

The massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties had slight growth Monday night into Tuesday, but no major new problems were reported.

The fire went from 231,000 to 234,000 acres, with 20% containment.  The fire has been most active in the mountains northwest of Carpinteria.  Helicopters, air tankers, and backfires were used in the battle to try to keep the inferno out of Carpinteria, and from moving west into Montecito and Santa Barbara.

There's no wind Tuesday morning in  the Carpinteria area, which means the blaze isn't moving rapidly.  However, smoke is hanging over the region, limiting visibility, and impacting the ability to use firefighting aircraft.  As the fire pushes northwest into backcountry forest areas, the risk to homes will decrease,  but some mountaintop communications towers, including cell phone repeaters are being threatened.

In Ventura County, there was a flareup of the fire in the mountains outside of Fillmore visible during the nighttime hours, but officials say it isn't creating an imminent threat to homes.  Because  of the isolated location, it's been difficult to fight.

As firefighters have said from the beginning, the weather is the key factor in the now more than week old fire.  The forecast calls for elevated fire weather conditions at least into Wednesday, but the wind is not expected to his the dangerous levels it did last week.