As of about 11AM December 14, 2017, the Thomas Fire is at 242,500 acres with 30% containment, and is now the fourth largest fire in California history. Our Ventura County Fire crews, along with firefighters from all over California and neighboring states have been battling tirelessly to gain better control over this ravenous beast that continues to burn.
Cal Fire Engineer Lost
Reported earlier today, a San Diego-based firefighter lost his life while battling the Thomas fire. Information is still coming in, but it has been reported a mayday call was made near Grand Avenue in Fillmore.
While containment steadily increases, winds are expected to pick up today (Thursday) and through Saturday; as of this writing Red Flag Warning will continue into Friday morning, unless extended further.
Evacuation alerts were re-issued for unincorporated areas of Fillmore after 9AM today, 12/14 as well.
Santa Ana Winds are predicted for Ventura and Los Angeles counties, with gusts possibly reaching 55mph in the mountains. Additionally, sundowner winds are also expected to pick up again on Friday; this particular kind of off-shore wind is specific to the Santa Barbara area and occur in the late afternoon to early evening and are dangerous. This older article explains sundowner winds in more detail.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes … Lungs, and Everywhere
The resulting smoke has been a visible and palpable presence in and around the far perimeters of the Thomas fire. Yesterday, Thousand Oaks, Fillmore, Moorpark and others on the Eastern end got a taste of it as the winds shifted and blew the smoke toward Conejo Valley. Some residents feared the worst, that the fires had backtracked, but many authorities assured it was just a shift in the winds.
AirNow is a good resource to check on the general air quality (AQI = air quality index) of your area.
Even if the air quality is marked as good in your area, we all experienced the wind shifting rather suddenly.
Experts even predict that the poor air conditions can last months. Larger particles that may be blocked by our natural defenses can be broken down into finer pieces, which we can’t see or smell. Many have picked up the N95 respirator masks, and are avoiding going outside unless necessary.
Here are some great resources to stay up-to-date on the latest conditions and evacuation notices for Ventura County area:
- Evacuation updates: http://readyventuracounty.org/
- AirNow – Current air quality updates
- Receive alerts through Nixle
- Highway Conditions or Road Closures: Caltrans, Waze
Please stay safe out there, and heed any evacuation warnings, mandatory or even voluntary, for the safety of yourself and others.
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Incident Information.” CalFire. Retrieved 14 December 2017. http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents/incidentdetails/Index/1922
“‘This fire is a beast’: Massive inferno keeps growing despite epic battle by firefighters.” LA Times. Retrieved 14 December 2017. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-thomas-fire-santa-ana-20171214-story.html
“Thomas Fire: Cal Fire Engineer Dies Fighting Blaze.” VC Star. Retrieved 14 December 2017. http://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/2017/12/14/thomas-fire-california-fires-cal-fire-firefighter-injured/952857001/
“Thomas Fire Incident Update.” Cal Fire. Retrieved 14 December 2017. http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/pub/cdf/images/incidentfile1922_3235.pdf
“Thomas Fire Incident Information.” Ready Ventura County. Retrieved 14 December 2017. http://readyventuracounty.org/
“The Thomas fire is now the fourth largest in California wildfire history.” LA Times. Retrieved 14 December 2017. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-thomas-fire-santa-ana-20171214-story.html
“Dangerous Sundowner Winds Explained.” Live Science. Retrieved 14 December 2017. https://www.livescience.com/18508-dangerous-sundowner-winds-explained.html