Firefighter Killed While Working Thomas Fire

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Active Santa Ana winds fueled the out-of-control brush fire, which prompted mandatory evacuations for hundreds of thousands of people in Ventura and Santa Barbara County.

Cory Iverson was an engineer with a state fire engine strike team based in San Diego.

- A firefighter was killed battling a massive blaze northwest of Los Angeles that is now considered to be California's fourth largest wildfire in the state's history, fire officials announced Thursday.

Firefighter Killed While Working Thomas Fire

Pimlott said the man's family and his unit had been notified.

The fire engineer died on the same day that the Thomas Fire - which ignited in the Santa Paula area last Monday - grew to almost 250,000 acres, becoming the fourth largest wildfire in modern California history.

It's the second death blamed on the so-called Thomas fire, which has ravaged Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for more than a week. Last week a 70-year-old woman was found dead in a vehicle which apparently crashed as she was trying to evacuate from the fire zone. The fires are also responsible for poor air quality throughout Southern California, forcing some commuters to wear protective face masks, local media reported.

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More than 8,000 firefighters and 27 helicopters are assigned to the fire, which has destroyed more than 900 homes and other structures.

Fire experts say California's fires are collectively burning an area larger than New York City and Boston combined.

The blaze sparked in Ventura County last week near Highway 150 and Highway 126, just north of Santa Paula.

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The Thomas Fire has burned about 242,500 acres and is 30 percent contained, as of Thursday.

Fire officials hope to lift some evacuations for Southern California's huge wildfire but warn that predicted Santa Ana winds could once again mean danger for communities. It has destroyed more than 900 structures, including 730 homes, as it continues to threaten about 18,000 buildings.

Fire lines have been established around almost a third of one of the largest wildfires in California history, but danger remains.

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The National Weather Service had a Red Flag Warning in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties through Friday morning, warning that some areas could see gusts up to 55 miles per hour. That blaze killed 46 race horses at a training center, and left one of their trainers with serious burns.

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