Thomas Fire Was a Force That Could Not Be Stopped

Ventura is shown in this undated photo. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Remnants of a burned down home from the Thomas Fire in Ventura is shown in this undated photo. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The fire left the mountains ghostly gray, vast slopes frozen still but for dust devils wandering the ash.

Fire crews were conducting a last big operation in the high country, burning a ridge above Hartman Ranch to keep the main fire from mushrooming into a road-less wilderness where condors soar.

The Thomas fire had already torn through disparate points of Southern California — beach enclaves, orange groves, rural canyons, golf retreats and suburban cul-de-sacs. Flames ignited fan palms against the Pacific surf and cedars on high granite peaks.

Residents along the flame front had seen fires come out of the mountains many times before — at horse ranches in Ojai, at farmworker camps in Fillmore, at Tuscan estates in stands of olive trees in Montecito.

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