Firefighters see progress in battling California fires

While still largely uncontrolled, fire crews have carved fire lines around one-quarter of the Thomas fire, a good sign of progress in combatting one of California's largest fires, which has grown to cover nearly 370 square miles. 

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/AP
A photo from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department shows a firefighter inspecting a map on Bella Vista Drive above Montecito, Calif. on Dec. 12, 2017. Firefighters have made small but significant progress in combatting fires.

Firefighters finally eked out progress on the titanic task of cutting fire lines around one of the biggest blazes in California history.

As the fire straddling Santa Barbara and Ventura counties entered its 10th day, crews had carved containment lines around one-quarter of it.

But the wildfire still raged Tuesday, threatening thousands of homes and stranding tens of thousands of evacuees.

The so-called Thomas fire, one of several burning around the state, has burned over 900 structures, at least 700 of them homes. And it has stretched across nearly 370 square miles of territory, making it the fifth largest in state history.

Elsewhere, fire officials announced that a cooking fire at a homeless encampment sparked a blaze last week that destroyed six homes in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Arson investigators determined that the so-called Skirball fire near the world-famous Getty museum was started by an illegal fire at a camp near a freeway underpass, city fire Capt. Erik Scott said.

The camp was empty when firefighters found it but people apparently had been sleeping and cooking there for at least several days, he said.

Back at the largest of the wildfires, firefighters protected foothill homes while the fire grew mostly into forest land, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.

Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended into the week, with a possible increase in gusts Thursday into Friday.

Evacuations continued for the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria and the inland agricultural town of Fillmore.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Eric Burdon and his wife, Marianna, of Ojai were among the people who fled the smoke Tuesday. Last week, Burdon wrote on Facebook about having to flee and returning temporarily to find their home still standing with ashes all around.

"A week like this gives you the perspective that life is what truly matters," he wrote.

A photo accompanying the post showed his handprint and signature written in ashes.

Residents near a Carpinteria avocado orchard said the trees could end up saving their homes.

"You have a thick layer of leaves underneath the bottom and they are watered regularly, so it's like a sponge," Jeff Dreyer, who lives nearby, told KEYT-TV. "So the fire gets to the sponge full of water and it slows it down."

Officials handed out masks to those who stayed behind in Montecito, an exclusive community about 75 miles from Los Angeles that's home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges, and Drew Barrymore. Actor Rob Lowe was among residents who evacuated over the weekend.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Firefighters see progress in battling California fires
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2017/1213/Firefighters-see-progress-in-battling-California-fires
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe