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Thomas Fire Containment Hits 88%; Remaining Active Flames In Isolated Area

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)
A Santa Barbara County firefighter in the foothills above Santa Barbara December 19th

Firefighters say the efforts to get full containment of the massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are going well, with the only mildly active flames in a wilderness area miles from communities.

Containment is up to 88% on the 281,000 acre blaze.

The one area of the blaze where there is some active flames in in its northeast corner, in the Los Padres National Forest. It’s in a rocky mountain area that’s so rugged firefighters can’t get to it on foot. Back burns have been used to limit its growth, and helicopter water drops are also helping to keep it in check. But, because the area is so rugged, building fire lines may be impossible, and U.S. Forest Service officials say crews may have to watch it until we get substantial rain.

Because of the success controlling the blaze, the number of firefighters involved has been downsized to almost a tenth of what it was at its peak. There are just under 900 people still involved with the fire. Most of the firefighting support operations are being consolidated at the main base at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

All mandatory evacuation orders were lifted last week, but Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and the Lockwood Valley area.

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