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After Break, Winds Expected to Return as Firefight Continues in Still-Growing Thomas Fire

Santa Barbara County firefighters stand on Gibraltar Ridge, located above Santa Barbara and Montecito, as a water drop is made on the Thomas Fire on Dec. 18, 2017. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Barbara County firefighters stand on Gibraltar Ridge, located above Santa Barbara and Montecito, as a water drop is made on the Thomas Fire on Dec. 18, 2017. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

After a brief respite from the relentless gusts that have driven the deadly Thomas fire for more than two weeks, gusty winds are expected to return, adding to the challenges facing firefighters working to contain the mammoth blaze.

The fire, which began near Santa Paula in the foothills above Thomas Aquinas College on Dec. 4, had burned through 271,750 acres as of Tuesday morning.

The Thomas fire is on track Tuesday to become the California’s second-largest wildfire. It’s now just 161 acres smaller than the second-largest fire on record, the lightning-sparked Rush fire that burned 271,911 acres in Lassen County in 2012.

The Thomas fire was 50% contained, and fire officials do not anticipate full containment until Jan. 8, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

The Thomas Fire burn area is shown in a Los Angeles Times graphic as of morning Dec. 19, 2017.

The Thomas Fire burn area is shown in a Los Angeles Times graphic as of morning Dec. 19, 2017.