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Containment Hits 45% In Thomas Fire; Firefighters Say Preparations Paid Off In Saturday Firestorm

The Thomas fire stripped this hillside in Montecito Saturday, but firefighters were able to protect the home on the hill about it

There’s big progress reported in efforts contain the massive Thomas brush fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

The fire has burned 270,000 acres of land. Containment has increased to 45%. Firefighters say despite strong winds shifting from Santa Barbara County on Saturday to Ventura County Sunday, containment lines held, and there was no significant growth of the fire.

Firefighters are still mopping up from Saturday’s firestorm in the Montecito and Santa Barbara areas. They say at its peak, winds were clocked at 70 miles an hour. But they say years of planning and preparation for a fire of this type in Santa Barbara’s front country were successful.

Thomas Incident Commander Todd Durham says 15 structures were destroyed or damaged, including two homes lost. But given the intensity of the fire, the number could have been in the hundreds. Durham says the fact people heeded evacuation orders was a huge help, allowing the thousands of firefighters pre-positioned in the area to focus on saving homes.

Evacuation orders are still in place for the area, with no word on when they will be lifted.