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Erratic Winds Fuel Growth Of Thomas Fire In Montecito, Santa Barbara Foothills

Flames on a ridge one canyon over from Coyote Road

Erratic winds pushed the Thomas Fire down into the foothills above Montecito and Santa Barbara, burning between some homes Saturday afternoon.  Firefighters kept the fire from moving through homes in the rural area.

Officials say 16,000 people have been affected by mandatory evacuations, and 34,000 are in warning zones.  The mandatory evacuations north of Highway 101 stretch from Carpinteria to Highway 154, although only some northern parts of Santa Barbara are in required evacuation zones. 

The fire burned down into canyons, and homes surrounded by trees.  But, firefighters pre-positioned in the area went after the spots to protect homes.  

There's no word of any homes being lost.  Officials declined to comment on the question, saying they are focused on firefighting, and don't want to give out incorrect information.

The wind started to ease in some areas of Southern Santa Barbara County around 5 p.m. Saturday, with further easing expected through the evening.  However, wind is expected to kick up in Ventura County early tomorrow, and continue through the day.

Evacuation centers remain open at UC Santa Barbara, and at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

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