More than 252,000 acres have been scorched by the massive Thomas Fire burning in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The Ventura County Sheriff's office issued a new mandatory evacuation order for the area of Sespe Creek to the west, Burson Ranch to the east, the Los Padres Forest to the north and the Fillmore City limits to the south. An advisory has also been issued for portions of the city of Fillmore.
Fire crews continue to struggle with the 470 square mile fire and have managed to get the blaze 35 percent contained. Fire officials say they believe it will be at least another week before they'll be able to get a handle on the fire. The fire grew another 3,000 acres overnight after the fire became the fourth-largest in the state's history on Thursday.
A Red Flag Warning denoting a high risk of wildfire expired Friday morning in Los Angeles County as high winds have died down, but the warning remains in place for Santa Barbara. Hot, dry, windy conditions will continue to make the firefighter's job difficult this weekend.
High winds with sustained winds of 20 to 40 mph are forecast for Los Angeles County and Ventura County mountains this weekend. Firefighters worry that could push the fire south towards more vulnerable structures.
The Thomas Fire was also responsible for the death of apparatus engineer Cory Iverson, a 32-year-old assigned to the fire from San Diego's Cal Fire unit. Details were sparse on what led to the firefighter's death. After the fatality, all 17 members of the San Diego Cal Fire crew were pulled from the Thomas Fire which they had been battling since Dec. 5th. A GoFundMe page set up for the family of the fallen firefighter has raised $125,000 in just 14 hours.
Fire officials warn that an extreme risk of wildfires still exists for Southern California. A fire weather watch will be in place through Sunday evening.
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