Authorities are reporting that the Thomas fire had scorched 23,200 acres by Tuesday, making it the fifth largest wildfire in modern California history.
With just 20% containment, and, remarkably, no civilian or firefighter injuries, the blaze has destroyed nearly 700 homes and damaged 158 in the city of Ventura. In the unincorporated areas of Ventura County, 266 structures have been destroyed, while 56 were damaged. The fire consumed six structures on Sunday in the beach town of Carpinteria, authorities said.
Severe fire weather will continue to promote significant fire growth further into Santa Barbara County, threatening the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Montecito, and Summerland. In the north and east, the active backing fire will move further into the Sespe Wilderness and the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. Gusty offshore winds will continue to threaten structures in parts of Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, Casitas Springs, Fillmore, unincorporated areas of Ventura County, Murrieta Canyon and Matilija Canyon.
Authorities report that critical communication infrastructure on multiple peaks within the fire area could affect public safety communications as well as cellular service. Residents are urged to use caution while driving as fire equipment is still operating in the fire areas.
The fire grew by more than 50,000 acres during the day, triggering new evacuation orders for about 5,000 county residents, including those east of Mission Canyon and north of Highway 192. An additional 30,000 residents west of Mission Canyon to Highway 154 and south of Highway 192 to the county line were told to prepare to leave.
The cost is estimated to run at more than $48 million.