Southern California’s most massive and most destructive wildfire got bigger Sunday, forcing more people in the path of the unpredictable flames to get out with their lives.
The blazing Thomas Fire caused new evacuation orders Sunday for the Ventura-Santa Barbara county lines, authorities said. Overnight, new orders were sent out for the Carpinteria and Montecito areas as one structure was lost, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Five fires covering more than a quarter of a million acres raged across California on Sunday, with 9,000 firefighters combating the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
More than 800 homes and structures have been destroyed, and 98,000 people have been forced to evacuate, according to Cal Fire. The ongoing blazes are threatening 25,000 homes.
By far the biggest blaze, the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, spanned 230,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained, authorities said Sunday night. The fire grew by more than 25,000 acres during the day, the Los Angeles Times added. Officials ordered new evacuations for people living east of Mission Canyon and north of Highway 192.
“Some places the smoke is going straight up in the air, and others it’s blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we’re in,” Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason said. “The winds are kind of squirrely right now.”
Thousands of homes and businesses in the county were without power.
“Our house is under threat of being burned,” Ellen DeGeneres tweeted at midday Sunday. “We just had to evacuate our pets. I’m praying for everyone in our community and thankful for all the incredible firefighters.”
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office issued evacuation orders on Sunday for the area spanning Buena Vista Drive to Toro Canyon Road from SR-192 north to Camino Cielo. Evacuation warnings for parts of Montecito, Carpinteria and Summerland, were also expanded on Sunday.
One death has been blamed on the Thomas Fire, which exploded on Monday. The body of Virginia Pesola, 70, was discovered in a car crash along a fire evacuation route in Ventura County, according to the county medical examiner’s office.
"Moderate Santa Ana winds pushed the fire last night and will continue through early this afternoon causing the fire to burned actively with significant growth in the Carpinteria area," the fire agency said on its website. "The fire continues to burn actively to the north, east, and west."
“This is the new normal,” Gov. Jerry Brown warned Saturday after surveying damage from the deadly Ventura fire. “We’re about ready to have firefighting at Christmas. This is very odd and unusual.”
In related news, here is what President Trump is doing about the California Fires.