CARPINTERIA (CBSLA) – The 143,000-acre Thomas Fire burning in Ventura County continues its march northwest, pushed by powerful Santa Ana winds into Santa Barbara County. It is still only 10 percent contained and has taken the life of a woman in Santa Paula.
Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead at the site of a car crash on an evacuation route, said Dr. Christopher Young, the Ventura County chief medical examiner. She apparently died of smoke inhalation.
“This tragic death is the only confirmed fire-related death in Ventura County to date,” Young said.
All mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been lifted in the City of Ventura with the exception of the area North of West Main Street and East of SR-33 commonly known as “Ventura Avenue” and all neighborhoods North of Poli and Foothill Rd in the City of Ventura.
In it’s path Thomas has destroyed 476 homes, damaged 108 and is threatening 15,000 more.
There are big concerns for Santa Barbara County. Flames are pushing toward Carpinteria. The Oceanside community is under a mandatory evacuation and 15,000 structures are at risk.
Free masks were being handed out in Ojai as smoke has inundated the community since there has been no wind to help move it out.
“I think it proves Ojai is a durable little town,” Richard Keit said. “This has happened three times in the 40 years when we’ve been completely surrounded by fire and the downtown here is over a 100 years old.”
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County Thursday, and mandatory evacuations were ordered for portions of Carpinteria and Summerland. Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies were out in force Friday morning with roadblocks throughout Carpinteria.
THOMAS FIRE: Evacuations and Closures
“You know, we get in there, and you watch the flames coming through, and you look at the houses and figure out what you can or can’t do around there to keep ourselves safe,” CAL FIRE Strike Team Leader Trainee Kevin Jacubos told CBS2 Friday.
A mandatory evacuation order had been issued for Highway 192 on the south, Highway 150 on the east (county line), Casitas Pass Road to the west, and north to East Camino Cielo.
“Yesterday, it was kind of like snowing ashes,” said David Velasquez, who has been keeping his two young daughters inside. Velasquez is in the voluntary evacuation zone, but is ready to go if it becomes mandatory.
The Ventura County Fire Department reported Friday that the Thomas Fire has destroyed 401 structures, damaged 81 more, and is only 10 percent contained.