Gusty winds, low humidity tax tired California firefighters

Firefighters battling the massive ...

Posted: Dec 14, 2017 4:07 AM
Updated: Dec 14, 2017 4:08 AM

Firefighters battling the massive Thomas Fire in Southern California have contained 25% of the blaze, but the weary crews have their work cut out for them in the days to come.

Wind gusts and low humidity are giving life to the ravaging blaze -- a behemoth larger than New York City -- that is destroying and damaging property and prompting mandatory and voluntary evacuations.

Advisory citing critical fire weather conditions is in effect until Friday

At least 95,000 residents have been evacuated

The inferno threatens Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and surrounding areas, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.

Relief from the parched and blustery weather won't be in sight for several days.

"The dry spell looks to sustain itself for at least the next week," said CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. "But some long-range models project some rain relief coming by Christmas which would be a welcome gift for the firefighters and residents of the region. This is still a long way out, so we will keep monitoring it for any changes."

Latest developments

Making history: At more than 236,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, the Thomas Fire is now the fifth-largest wildfire in modern California history.

Months without rain: It has been more than 250 days since rain was recorded in the part of Ventura County where the Thomas Fire sparked on December 4, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

Devastation: Seven hundred and one single-family residences, 12 commercial structures and 182 minor structures have been destroyed.

Red flag warning: An advisory citing critical fire weather conditions is in effect until 10 a.m. (1 p.m. ET) Friday.

Wind: Gusts could reach 40 mph or higher in parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Humidity: Levels will still be extremely low with low recovery in the overnight hours. Temperatures will remain in the upper 70s and low 80s. Santa Ana wind advisories are possible by the end of the week.

Evacuations: At least 95,000 residents have been evacuated in Southern California, Cal Fire said.

Death toll: There has been one death in the Thomas Fire. Authorities said they believe Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula died in a crash while fleeing the fire. Her body was found last Wednesday.

More than 1,000 structures destroyed

The Thomas Fire is one of six major wildfires torching Southern California. The fires have destroyed more than 1,000 structures since igniting.

The blazes vary in size, but together, they are larger than the cities of New York and Boston combined, or bigger than Singapore.

One of the fires, named Skirball, was caused by an "illegal cooking fire at an encampment in a brush area" near where Sepulveda Boulevard crosses under the San Diego Freeway, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. No arrests have been made.

The Skirball Fire, which broke out a week ago, consumed more than 400 acres, destroyed six homes and damaged 12 others, the fire department said in a statement. It's 85% contained.

The causes of the other major fires have yet to be determined.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 489116

Reported Deaths: 6614
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1014901592
Ramsey43327810
Dakota36619394
Anoka33496391
Washington22208262
Stearns18822202
St. Louis14887265
Scott13403107
Wright12609116
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Becker314842
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Unassigned44768
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337676

Reported Deaths: 5494
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52087560
Linn19512317
Scott17167212
Black Hawk14970293
Woodbury13847214
Johnson1317075
Dubuque12450196
Dallas1022593
Pottawattamie9897146
Story965045
Warren514976
Clinton502684
Cerro Gordo501383
Webster495788
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Plymouth368978
Lee354653
Marion341571
Jones285155
Henry279837
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Carroll266948
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Boone244330
Benton241154
Washington239547
Mahaska215746
Jackson210339
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Tama203065
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Delaware186240
Clay184425
Winneshiek183628
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Page178119
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Clayton160254
Butler159331
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Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
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Lyon145741
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Madison143218
Iowa140723
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Winnebago130531
Calhoun129611
Cass129651
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Appanoose123247
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
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Union119331
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Franklin109719
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Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9720
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