The Thomas Fire was declared 100 percent contained on Friday morning after more than a month of firefighters battling the blaze, which consumed 280,000 acres and destroyed at least 1,000 structures, according to officials at the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to causing massive destruction, the fire also contributed to earlier this week.
According to news released by Los Padres National Forest officials, the Thomas Fire began on December 4 and over a month later had burned 281,893 acres, destroyed 1,063 Structures and damaged 280 more.
The Los Padres National Forest is closed to the public within the Thomas Fire perimeter on the Santa Barbara and Ojai Ranger Districts.
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Two people, a firefighter and a civilian, died in the fire. While California wildfires generally occur in hot summer months, years of drought have created conditions where such disasters can occur year-round.
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Burned barren by the fire, the hills in the area made easy prey for recent heavy rains, loosing rivers of mud that found little resistance from the scant vegetation that remained. Nearly the entire community of Montecito ― around 10,000 people ― was as emergency responders continued to sift through the rubble.
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"It's heartbreaking that just weeks after the Thomas Fire devastated the Central Coast, our community is again facing awful destruction and the tragic loss of family and friends", said Steve Ortiz, United Way of Santa Barbara County President & CEO, and Eric Harrison, President & CEO, United Way of Ventura County, in a joint statement.
Federal and state authorities are now examining the burn area to assess the risks for flooding and other post-fire hazards.
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