Local Firefighters Return from California wildfires in time for Christmas

25 December, 2017, 17:31 | Author: Irene Delgado
  • New Mexico firefighters return home from California

"It's good to be home, back with our families, in time for Christmas", said Jerrod Spence, who served as a Battalion Chief for Washington Strike Team One's deployment to California's Thomas wildfire, which officially became the largest wildfire in California's history on Saturday.

That was 154 acres larger than California's previous fire record holder - the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County that killed 15 people. Easing winds and lower temperatures have allowed workers to contain over 65 percent of the fire, and almost all of the mandatory evacuations in Santa Barbara County and Ventura County have been lifted.

Cal Fire says the flames have burned through 1,063 buildings and is just 65 percent contained after starting on December 4th.

Conditions have improved in recent days, with cooler, more-humid winds lessening the threat to homes and other buildings, the AP reported.

State fire officials declared the Thomas fire, which overnight reached 273,400 acres, or about 427 square miles of coastal foothills and national forest scorched as the largest blaze.

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Earlier this year, wildfires engulfed wine country in Northern California, consuming more than 100,000 acres and prompting 106,000 people to evacuate.

The Snohomish County crew was among 8,000 wildland firefighters battling to contain the wind-blown blaze.

On Wednesday, as the fire continued to march north and west, Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Zaniboni was awed by the speed of its growth.

By that point, firefighters already were beginning to take advantage of a lull in the weather. It's now 65 percent contained and all mandatory evacuations have been lifted.

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