With dust-dry vegetation, very little rain and nagging winds, the peril persists.
A “red flag” warning issued by the National Weather Service is in effect until 8:00 pm Sunday (0400 GMT).
Officials in Ventura County said, “In the Ojai Valley and surrounding areas, the air quality is extremely bad with the last couple of days at the Very Unhealthy/Hazardous levels”. The lack of strong winds on Monday means the fire was not spreading quickly, but it also is not clearing out smoke. Although the Thomas Fire is still raging, most of the smaller fires are being gradually brought under control, officials said.
Southern California’s gusty Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous wildfires.
Santa Barbara County has suffered intermittent (but widespread) power outages due to the Thomas Fire. And more than 85,000 people were without electricity in the Santa Barbara area.
The first fire-related death was confirmed Saturday by the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office and identified as Virginia Pesola, a 70-year-old woman from Santa Paula.
The six blazes vary in size. The fire, for which investigators were still seeking to determine the cause, was 20 percent contained on Monday evening, up from 15 percent earlier in the day.
It also coincided with the news, released about 3 p.m., that the blaze had burned into Santa Barbara County.
The costs associated with suppressing the fire had already ballooned to $17 million dollars by Saturday morning, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. Six structures were destroyed and three were damaged.
Hospitals across Southern California have deployed several resources and services to help those affected by multiple wildfires now raging across the state, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department had seven strike teams assigned to the Thomas fire.
More than 4,000 firefighters were engaged in the effort to contain the flames.
Despite the intensity of the fires that raged on multiple different fronts – stretching from areas north of Los Angeles down to the San Diego region – authorities have reported only one fatality.
The 421-acre Skirball Fire, which broke out Wednesday in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, was 75 percent contained. It’s 100% contained, but authorities are monitoring it as winds pick up.
California Governor Jerry Brown blasted President Donald Trump for the massive fires smoldering across his state, criticizing the president for removing for the United States from a deal to fight climate change that would help tame conditions intensifying the blazes.
“Mutual aid is an agreement between emergency responders to lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries”, said Massiel Ladron De Guevara, spokeswoman for the Chino Valley Fire Protection District.
As for those facing the flames of the current wildfires, there’s gratitude – for life, community and the efforts of the firefighters working to protect both. Fallbrook, known for its avocado orchards, burned, and homes were destroyed in its Rancho Monserate Country Club retirement community.