Southern California has been battling a series of major wildfires since December 4th, when a brush fire took hold in Ventura County. And now the largest of the fires has spread, forcing evacuations in Santa Barbara County on Sunday, December 10th.
The fire, known as the Thomas Fire expanded more than 50,000 acres on December 10th, forcing about 5,000 residents to evacuate from their homes. Santa Barbara’s beach communities of Carpinteria, La Conchita, and Montecito were among the areas threatened by the blaze.
The Thomas Fire had consumed more than 230,000 acres as of December 11th, making it the fifth largest fire in California history.
So far, 88,000 people have evacuated due to the fire. According the the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the fire is 15 percent contained. The remaining five fires raging in Southern California have largely been contained.
As many as 85,000 people in Santa Barbara County lost power on Sunday, according to the electricity company Southern California Edison.
Governor Jerry Brown said at a news conference on December 9th that the fires could be caused in part by climate change, adding that this could be a “new normal” for the state of California.
“This could be something that happens every year or every few years,” Brown said. “We’re about to have a firefighting Christmas.”
According to the Cal Fire website, Santa Ana winds and low humidity are expected to continue fanning the flames of the Thomas Fire. Rain is not expected in the next week either, increasing fire danger. The fire will likely continue moving west, toward the Pacific Ocean.
Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey were among the many people forced to evacuate in Montecito. The two celebrities took to Twitter to express their gratitude for the firefighters and pray for their communities.
Our house is under threat of being burned. We just had to evacuate our pets. I’m praying for everyone in our community and thankful to all the incredible firefighters. The live stream is on https://t.co/FTcKVvHO16— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 10, 2017
Peace be Still, is my prayer tonight. For all the fires raging thru my community and beyond. #peacebestill— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) December 11, 2017
We hope that firefighters will be able to contain the blaze soon. Until then, stay safe, Santa Barbara.