Carpinteria, Montecito evacuated as California's Thomas Fire grows to 173000 acres

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The Thomas Fire, which ignited a week ago near Ventura, grew by almost 20,000 acres overnight as new evacuation orders were issued for parts of Santa Barbara County, officials said. An update from Cal Fire said firefighters had expanded containment lines as they took advantage of more favourable weather conditions, with high winds staying away from the epicenter of the fight.

Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was the first confirmed death as a result of the multiple blazes, as she was found dead Wednesday night at a vehicle crash site along an evacuation route northeast of Ventura. Details regarding the handouts are being refined, according to County Health spokesperson Susan Klein-Rothschild. And more than 85,000 people were without electricity in the Santa Barbara area.

The costs associated with suppressing the fire had already ballooned to $17 million dollars by Saturday morning, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

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Mandatory evacuations in the city of Santa Paula were lifted on Saturday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Residents in areas north of Carpinteria from Toro Canyon Road east to the Santa Barbara County line and north of Highway 192 have been told to evacuate, as well as areas east of Buena Vista Drive to the county line and north of Highway 192. The medical examiner said the cause of her death was blunt force injuries, smoke inhalation and heat injuries.

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Almost 4,500 firefighters, 611 engines, 31 water tenders, 30 helicopters, 51 bulldozers, 55 hand crews and other resources from Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties as well as nine neighboring states are battling the Thomas Fire, which broke out near Santa Paula Monday night, December 4.

The 421-acre Skirball Fire, which broke out Wednesday in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, was 75 percent contained.

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