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Some Easing Of Wind For Thomas Fire In Santa Barbara Area Saturday Afternoon

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Huge plume of smoke from Thomas Fire Saturday afternoon

A wind driven flareup of the Thomas brush fire in Southern Santa Barbara County led to a major expansion of mandatory evacuation zones, including Summerland and Montecito from the mountains to the 101 Freeway, and sections of Santa Barbara west to Highway 154.

The potential for sundowner winds was in the forecast for early Saturday morning, and strong wind kicked in during the six a.m. hour.  Hundreds of fire trucks were deployed to protect structures.  At least two structures have been reported damaged, but firefighters have been able to protect hundreds of homes up against the mountains, and foothills.  One fire official says he's amazed that we didn't lose a hundred homes.

The northbound 101 was closed for more than two hours midday in the Seacliff area as a result of the fire, but it has since reopened.  Santa Barbara Airport remains opened, but United Airlines canceled its remaining flights for the day.  People are being advised to check flight status before heading to the airport.

San Luis Obispo County has sent dozens of law enforcement officers from the county, and police departments in the county to help with things like traffic control.

The fire official stands at 259.000 acres burned and 40% containment, but those numbers are expected to change in the next few hours.

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