FILLMORE, Calif. (CBSLA/AP) — Entering its twelfth day, the fourth largest fire in California history flared up again in Ventura County Friday, as thousands of exhausted firefighters continued to fight the flames.
Unpredictable Santa Ana winds pushed the fire closer to the town of Fillmore in southeastern Ventura County, as crews worked tirelessly to keep the flames away from homes. New mandatory evacuations were issued Thursday night along with the evacuation orders already in place.
As of Friday morning, the Thomas Fire has grown to 256,000 acres and is 35 percent contained. It continues to threaten the Santa Barbara County seaside communities of Carpinteria, Summerland Montecito and Santa Barbara, where mandatory and voluntary evacuations are also in place. It has caused almost $100 million in damage
Thomas Fire: Closures and Evacuations
CAL Fire said Friday that the majority of its resources are going to securing containment lines on the western side of the blaze.
The fire, which broke out Dec. 4 at the 150 and 126 highways, has destroyed 1,009 structures — including at least 740 homes — and damaged 218 more. 18,000 homes remain threatened. It has prompted evacuations of about 100,000 people.
Latest Coverage: The Southern California Wildfires
Meanwhile, one of the more than 8,300 firefighters battling the Thomas Fire has died. Cory Iverson, 32, an engineer with a San Diego-based CAL Fire strike team, died Thursday while battling the Thomas Fire in the hills above Fillmore. His body was retrieved in a hilly area.
Iverson had been with the state since 2009 and is survived by his pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter, said Fire Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“Corey is just a great young man and he was somebody who just really loved his job,” San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham said. “What really hit all of us today is that normally this time of year we’re supposed to be slowing down and spending time with our families.”
Dozens of police and fire vehicles escorted a hearse carrying Iverson’s flag-draped body to the county medical examiner’s office in Ventura.
It was the second death linked to the fire. A 70-year-old woman was killed in a car crash while evacuating as the fire raged last week. Her body was found inside the wrecked car along an evacuation route.
Pimlott did not provide any details about Iverson’s death but said it was under investigation by an accident review team. He added that he was “deeply saddened” by Iverson’s death but added that fire crews were continuing to focus on their mission.
“The firefight in front of us continues to go on. The communities we are protecting are depending on us and we will not fail,” he said at a Thursday afternoon news conference in San Diego.
Thomas firefighting costs so far were tallied at $74.7 million, according to Cal Fire.
A Red Flag Warning was in affect through at least 10 a.m. Friday. The Southland has seen an unprecedented 12 straight days of Red Flag warnings. However, the National Weather Service said that extreme fire danger conditions could last through the weekend due to lack of moisture along with a likely increase in wind speeds.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)