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Thomas Fire grows to 115,000 acres, destroying 439 homes and buildings

Updated 9:50 p.m. Thursday — for the latest information, go here.

Evacuations | School closures | Road closures | Air quality | Map | Ask us your questions!

The Thomas Fire continued to grow Thursday, as it spread over the Ventura County line into Santa Barbara County, now burning 115,000 acres — approximately 180 square miles.

Planning has begun for people to return to their Ventura homes, officials said. However, some voluntary evacuations in Carpinteria have been made mandatory.

Governor Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Santa Barbara County Thursday night due to the Thomas fire, and requested a Presidential Emergency Declaration for federal assistance. 

The fire has destroyed 439 homes and other buildings, according to officials, while another 85 have been damaged, officials said. It's a big increase from previously available estimates.

Santa Ana winds are expected to weaken Friday, though officials noted that the winds were unpredictable and that they expected another challenging day.

The Red Flag fire weather conditions warning has been extended to 8 p.m. Sunday. There were 2,600 firefighters battling the fire as of Thursday evening.

Cal Fire spokesman Charles Esseling said earlier on Thursday afternoon that firefighters had halted the northwest progress of the fire, stopping it near where Highway 101 meets Highway 150. 

However, another fire front spread. Officials were worried that if the winds shifted, flames might reach Carpinteria, Esseling said.

The fire had already grown rapidly overnight to 96,000 acres and 5 percent containment, prompting officials to evacuate an additional 300 residents in Carpinteria and to temporarily close a major highway that serves communities on the central coast. 

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said it evacuated residents at about 1:45 a.m. Thursday. 

Highway 101 was temporarily closed south of Carpinteria at SR 126, at first in both directions, before southbound lanes were reopened, according to the Ventura County officials. Traffic is now open in both directions, but conditions could change and force another closure at any time, California Highway Patrol officials said.

Overnight, a body was also found by the site of a vehicle accident near Wheeler Canyon, close to the Thomas Fire's burn area, authorities said Thursday.

"The cause of death has not been determined," said Senior Deputy Tim Lohman with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. "It appears it might have been a vehicle accident."

Two firefighters have suffered minor injuries since the fire began, Lohman said, the first Monday and the second Thursday. 

"Both are expected to be ok," he said.

The Thomas Fire broke out Monday evening near Santa Paula and spread all the way to the ocean. Smoke consumed Highway 101 near Faria Beach as the fire reached the sea.

Tom Kruschke, a spokesman with Ventura County Fire, said overnight winds had not been as significant as predicted. 

"But the potential is still there, they're picking up and it's going to happen through the rest of this day," he said. "We're just going to have to wait and see what Mother Nature brings us and respond to it as best we can."

Evacuations

MANDATORY:

  • City of Santa Paula - Boundary of Say Road north to Thomas Aquinas, Dickenson Ranch Road east to Santa Paula Creek
  • Santa Paula unincorporated area, east of Santa Paula Creek, north of highway 126, west of Hall Road to Timber Canyon Road 
  • City of Santa Paula - Boundary of Monte Vista Street north to city limits, Foothill Road from Steckel to Peck Road to north of city limits
  • Santa Paula unincorporated area towards Ventura- North of Foothill Road from Peck Road to Wells Road including: Wheeler Canyon, Aliso Canyon and Rancho Vista
  • City of Ventura - Teloma west to Brent Street, Telegraph Road north to north of Foothill Road
  • City of Ventura - Victoria Road east to Hill Road, Telegraph Road north to Foothill Road
  • City of Ventura - North Ashwood Avenue east to Hill Road, Telegraph Road north to Foothill Road
  • City of Ventura - North of Foothill Road from Wells Road to Poli Street
  • City of Ventura - North of Main Street from Seward Avenue to Hwy 33 (includes entire Ventura Avenue area)
  • Oak View - Boundary of Hwy 33 east to Creek Road, Creek Road north to Fairview Road
  • Meiners Oaks - North of E. El Roblar between Rice Road and Hwy 33
  • Entire Community of Casitas Springs - Evacuate to Ventura County Fairgrounds - 10 West Harbor Blvd., Ventura
  • Lake Casitas - North of Hwy 150 heading to Hwy 33 and south of Los Padres National Forest 
  • East Ojai Valley - Carne Road east to Koenigstein Road, SR 150 north to Thacher Road
  • Ojai - Casitas Pass Road east to Rice Road, Baldwin Road to North of Matilija Canyon (Includes Burnham Road North to Baldwin Road) 
  • Upper Ojai Valley - Hwy 150 from Dennison Grade east to Osborne Road and all residences north
  • Upper Ojai Valley (West) - Hwy 33 - Matilija Canyon 
  • Unincorporated Ventura CountyArea- Residents and day visitors of Rose Vallley
  • Ventura County North Coast Area - Boundary of Hwy 33 on the north to Casitas Vista Road, northwest to Hwy 150, Hwy 150 (Casitas Pass Road) west to US 101 and south on US 101 (including Pacific Coast Highway) to Emma Wood State Beach 
  • East of Highway 150 from Rincon Hill Road South to the 101, including Bates Road
  • Rincon Point

VOLUNTARY:

  • City of Ventura- North Hill Road east to Wells Road, Telegraph Road to Foothill Road. 
  • Ojai- Casitas Pass Road east to Highway 33, Spring Street to Loma Drive. (Includes Rice Road east to Loma Drive. Baldwin Road north to Besant Road)

EVACUATED FACILITIES IN OJAI:

  • Olive Branch of Ojai (506 Drown Ave)
  • Mountain Vista Manor (602 E. Oak St.)
  • Manor of Ojai (108 W. Eucalyptus St.)
  • Providence Ojai (601 N. Montgomery St.)
  • Gables of Ojai (701 N. Ojai St.)
  • The Villa at Ojai (1117 Sunnyglenn Ave)

SHELTERS:

  • City of Ventura - Ventura County Fairgrounds at Miners Building (Red Cross - Includes an Animal Shelter for all types of animals) – 10 W Harbor Blvd, Ventura, CA 93001
  • City of Ojai - Nordhoff High School (Red Cross) -1401 Maricopa Hwy, Ojai, CA 93023
  • City of Oxnard - Oxnard College Gymnasium (Red Cross)- Open 12/5/17, 7:00 a.m.
  • City of Santa Paula - Santa Paula Community Center (City of SP run shelter) - Open 8:00 a.m.
  • City of Fillmore - Veteran's Memorial Bldg (City of Fillmore run shelter), 511 2nd Street - Will be open 12/6/17, 8:00 a.m.
  • UC Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara Multi Activity Center, 552 University Road, Santa Barbara, CA

SCHOOL CLOSURES

The following districts will be closed the rest of the week:

  • ACE Charter High School
  • Briggs Elementary School District
  • Fillmore Unified School District (will be closed 12/7)
  • Hueneme Elementary School District
  • Mesa Union Elementary School District
  • Mupu Elementary School District
  • Ocean View Elementary School District
  • Ojai Unified School District
  • Our Lady of Assumption Catholic School
  • Oxnard Elementary School District
  • Oxnard Union High School District
  • Pleasant Valley School District
  • Rio Elementary School District
  • Santa Barbara Unified School District
  • Santa Clara Elementary School District
  • Santa Paula Unified School District
  • Somis Union School District
  • Saint Anthony's School
  • Saint Bonaventure High School
  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  • University Preparation Charter School
  • VCOE Career Education Center (Camarillo and Moorpark)
  • VCOE-operated school sites and classrooms
  • Ventura Charter School
  • Ventura College
  • Ventura Unified School District
  • Villanova Prep School (Closed 12/7/17)
  • Vista Real Charter High School District

The following schools are closed Thursday:

  • Carpinteria Unified School District
  • Goleta Union School District
  • Hope School District
  • Montecito Union School District
  • University of California-Santa Barbara

The following schools are planning to re-open Thursday:

  • Camarillo Independent Charter
  • "CAPE School"
  • Conejo Valley Adult Education
  • Conejo Valley Unified School District
  • Moorpark College
  • Moorpark Unified School District
  • Oxnard College
  • Simi Valley Unified School District
  • CSU Channel Islands (though classes continue to be suspended)

ROAD CLOSURES

Hard closures (meaning only public safety personnel will have access to them):

  • Eastbound SR-150, from Reeves Road in Ojai to Stonegate Road in Santa Paula
  • SR 150 between Highway 33 and the 101
  • Foothill Road at Olive / Cummings / Briggs / Peck / Wells / Highpoint / LaFonda / Skyline / Colina Vista 
  • Nye Road loop east of Highway 33 (Santa Paula/Ventura area)
  • Route 33, three miles north of Ojai at Camino Cielo in Los Padres National Forest

AIR QUALITY

Air quality reached "hazardous" levels in Santa Barbara Thursday, according to the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. Ventura County officials also reported "hazardous" air quality in the Ojai Valley.

"Ojai, the fire has burned pretty much around all four sides," said Mallory Ham of the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District. "The smoke seems to be settling down in there."

The winds in the valley weren't strong as of Thursday afternoon, so the air is fairly stagnant, he said.

"Anybody, even healthy individuals out in this kind of air for a signifiant amount of time will experience some health impact," Ham said. 

An air monitoring station in Goleta recorded "very unhealthy" levels, and in Lompoc, conditions were "unhealthy." 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association predicted smoke from the fire could make its way up the western coast of the United States. 

On Thursday afternoon, officials in the city of Monterey said wildfire smoke had reached the Monterey Bay. 

For information on how to protect yourself, read our tip sheet here.

ASK US YOUR QUESTIONS

KPCC journalists are covering the fires burning across Southern California and are working hard to answer community members' questions. Let us know what you need to know below.

 
 
This is a developing story.