On Christmas Eve thousands of firefighters still battle the Thomas Fire

Santa and Mrs. Claus firefighters Thomas Fire

Above: Santa and Mrs. Claus greet firefighters during the Christmas Eve morning briefing on the Thomas Fire. Photo credit: Ventura County Fire Department.

(Originally published at 8:38 a.m. PST December 24, 2017)

Many veteran firefighters in California have stories about spending Thanksgiving on wildfires. Fewer have experienced Christmas on a large fire. But today, on Christmas Eve, over 2,500 are working on the Thomas Fire that has become the largest in the recorded history of California — 273,400 acres so far. It started in December and is only 78 percent contained.

Map of the Thomas Fire, December 23, 2017
Map of the north side of the Thomas Fire, December 23, 2017. The red line represents uncontrolled fire edge. Credit: Incident Management Team. Click to enlarge.

The southern boundary of the fire from Santa Barbara to Ventura is contained and secure. Thanks to shorter days and a lack of strong winds the Incident Management Team does not expect any additional significant spread of the fire, other than strategic burning to secure the fire edge.

The planned 20,000-acre firing operation that would have removed fuel and secured approximately 17 miles on the north side apparently was halted by the weather, including a few snow flurries. That area is still shown as uncontrolled on the Team’s map. But on Saturday firefighters conducted firing operations on the northern flank along Cherry Creek Road near Highway 33 to keep the fire from moving to the north.

All articles on Wildfire Today about the Thomas Fire are tagged “Thomas Fire”.

Santa and Mrs. Claus firefighters Thomas Fire
Santa and Mrs. Claus visit with firefighters on the Thomas Fire on Christmas Eve. Photo credit: Ventura County Fire Department.

The blaze would have been much larger if it had not burned into previous fires, including the 2009 Jesusita, 2007 Zaca, and 2006 Day Fires. If the weather had not changed, the 2002 Wolf Fire would have assisted in controlling it on the north side near Highway 33.

Saturday at 6:00 p.m. responsibilities were transferred to California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 under the leadership of Incident Commander Mark Von Tillow. Most fire suppression activity is now on National Forest System lands.

There are currently no mandatory evacuation orders in effect. Residents on Highway 33 between Rose Valley north to Hartman Ranch remain under a voluntary evacuation warning due to fire activity in the nearby areas.

Map of the Thomas Fire, December 23, 2017
Map of the Thomas Fire, December 23, 2017, by the Incident Management Team. Click to enlarge.

10 largest California wildfires

Thomas Fire Christmas Eve
Thomas Fire, Christmas Eve. Credit: Los Padres National Forest.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

One thought on “On Christmas Eve thousands of firefighters still battle the Thomas Fire”

  1. That’s very good news! The media is bored with it so it’s hard to find any updates. Instead we get to endlessly review the video of the major network ‘news reporter’ who did his breathless report at night, in front of someone’s half-burned home where he helpfully directed viewers to notice the gutting drama of little chunks of ceramic roof tiles dangling from wires next to him. ?!!
    Thanks!
    A safe and Merry Christmas to everyone!

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