Crews gain on huge California fire but wind threat remains

Posted: Updated:
LOS ANGELES -

(AP) After announcing increased containment on one of the biggest wildfires in California history, officials warned that communities remain at risk and the threat could increase as unpredictable winds whip up again.

Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended, with a possible increase in gusts into the end of the week.

Evacuations continued Wednesday for the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria and the inland agricultural town of Fillmore.

Officials announced Tuesday night that crews had carved containment lines around one-quarter of the blaze straddling Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The so-called Thomas fire has burned over 900 structures, at least 700 of them homes, since it broke out Dec. 4. It stretches across nearly 370 square miles (958 sq. kilometers) of Southern California, making it the fifth largest in state history.

Elsewhere, fire officials announced that a cooking fire at a homeless encampment sparked a blaze last week that destroyed six homes in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Arson investigators determined that the so-called Skirball fire near the world-famous Getty museum was started by an illegal fire at a camp near a freeway underpass, city fire Capt. Erik Scott said.

The camp was empty when firefighters found it, but people apparently had been sleeping and cooking there for at least several days, he said.

Back at the largest of the wildfires, firefighters protected foothill homes while the flames churned mostly into unoccupied forest land, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Eric Burdon and his wife, Marianna, of Ojai were among the people who fled the smoke Tuesday. Burdon, a member of the 1960s British Invasion band The Animals, wrote on Facebook last week about having to flee and returning temporarily to find their home still standing with ashes all around.

"A week like this gives you the perspective that life is what truly matters," he wrote.

A photo accompanying the post showed his handprint and signature written in ashes.

  • SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Dog Day Fridays for May 25

    Dog Day Fridays for May 25

    Friday, May 25 2018 8:05 AM EDT2018-05-25 12:05:38 GMT
    Baxter is a 7-year-old Shepherd mix recently surrendered to the shelter by his owner. This handsome fellow loves to play and have fun. He likes other dogs as long as they are friendly and allow him to take the lead.Baxter is a 7-year-old Shepherd mix recently surrendered to the shelter by his owner. This handsome fellow loves to play and have fun. He likes other dogs as long as they are friendly and allow him to take the lead.

    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Bobbi and the Strays. The shelter is located at 2 Rider Place in Freeport. Their phone number is (516) 378-4340

    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Bobbi and the Strays. The shelter is located at 2 Rider Place in Freeport. Their phone number is (516) 378-4340

  • PHOTOS: Fleet Week 2018

    PHOTOS: Fleet Week 2018

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 8:53 PM EDT2018-05-24 00:53:14 GMT
    Fleet Week 2018Fleet Week 2018
    Fleet Week 2018Fleet Week 2018

    Photos of the 2018 Fleet Week ships coming up the Hudson River to Manhattan. There are 14 ships for the public to visit and tour. The celebration lasts a week. It has been held nearly every year since 1984.

    Photos of the 2018 Fleet Week ships coming up the Hudson River to Manhattan. There are 14 ships for the public to visit and tour. The celebration lasts a week. It has been held nearly every year since 1984.

  • Memorial Day 2018 Photos

    Memorial Day 2018 Photos

    Whether you are honoring loved ones, attending a parade or spending time with family, News 12 wants to see your Memorial Day photos. Post them on Instagram or Twitter with #N12MemorialDay.

    Whether you are honoring loved ones, attending a parade or spending time with family, News 12 wants to see your Memorial Day photos. Post them on Instagram or Twitter with #N12MemorialDay.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."