Southern California just can’t seem to get a break from its firestorm as the vicious wildfire season edges toward Christmas. Fire after fire has burned into heavily populated communities as warm winds and dry conditions have whipped sparks into a frenzy.
Now after the fires spared most of the celebrities and millionaires in Bel-Air but burned more than a thousand other homes to the ground in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, a massive blaze that has been eating up land for 10 days is charging straight at the ritzy coastal city of Santa Barbara.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Thomas Fire, which has already razed 900 houses in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, has slapped up against the Pacific Ocean and is marching its way up the coast toward Carpinteria, Montecito, and Santa Barbara. 62,000 home and other structures are now at risk in the metropolitan area of over 400,000 people.
Fire official Mark Brown warned the residents of Santa Barbara, “When the wind starts pushing it, we can throw everything we have at it and it’s not going to do any good.”
Firefighting Capt. Brenda Ripley emphasized the unpredictable nature of the fire, saying the mountainous and oceanic geography of the region “creates erratic wind conditions, which are very difficult to predict and very difficult to fight fire in.”
600 fire engines are in Santa Barbara county forming a line of defense against the fire as it chews it way across hillsides covered with wild grass and shrubs. More than 40 aircraft are performing an aerial assault on the flames as well.
Only 30% of the Thomas Fire has been contained, though, after scorching 242,500 acres — an area bigger than Dallas. It’s now the fourth largest fire in California history, according to ABC News.
Fire chief Martin Johnson briefed his crews on the front lines, declaring, “This fire is a beast, and you’re going to kill it. I have no doubt.”
Please pray for the safety of the firefighters and the preservation of the homes and livelihoods of the people in the fire’s path! In other news, “Today” show fans are dismayed to see that another member of the cast is leaving.