Raging 150-Square-Mile Thomas Fire Prompts Mandatory Evacuations in Santa Barbara County

A resident cries as the Thomas Fire approaches the town of La Conchita early Dec. 7, 2017. (Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

This is a developing wildfire story. Please check back frequently for updates.

As evacuation orders continue to expand amid the massive Thomas Fire burning in Ventura County, residents trying to flee the danger areas had to work around closures on the 101 Freeway and Highway 150 Thursday.

The fire has burned 96,000 acres — or about 150 square miles — and is just 5 percent contained, fire officials tweeted Thursday morning.

By early evening, new evacuation orders were issued for Santa Barbara County as the blaze continued to rage:

A firefighter battles the Thomas fire in the town of La Conchita early Thursday. (Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A full list of evacuations for Ventura County was posted at readyventuracounty.org.

The 101 Freeway was temporarily shut down to all northbound traffic at State Route 126, and to all southbound traffic beginning at Bates Road, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release early Thursday morning. The 101 was later reopened in both directions with escorts being provided, the California Highway Patrol tweeted just after 7 a.m.

State Route 150 was also closed between Carpentaria and Ojai, where mandatory evacuation orders were issued for some areas Wednesday night.

The fire spread overnight Wednesday into Thursday due to strong Santa Ana winds and grew significantly north of the City of Ojai, according to Cal Fire.

The fire was also moving north toward the Santa Barbara County line and Lake Casitas, as well as toward the Los Padres National Forest and Sespe Wilderness, Cal Fire stated.

Smoke from the Thomas fire burning in Ventura County fans out across the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 7, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

Firefighters in La Conchita managed to save several homes from a flare up Thursday morning, Ventura County Fire Department Public Information Officer Rich Macklin said.

“We saved about six homes,” said Macklin, who described the firefight in that area as a success. Only one abandoned structure was lost.

The La Conchita homes were threatened hours after the main burn rolled through the area about 1 a.m., Macklin said.

Authorities made a grim discovery in Wheeler Canyon when they found the body of a woman in a wrecked car, Macklin said.

It was unclear if the crash was related to the fire.

The Thomas Fire rages in Ventura County on Dec. 7, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

About 2,500 firefighters were battling the blaze by ground and air, according to Cal Fire.

At least 150 structures have been destroyed, however that number is expected to rise when officials get a chance to resurvey the damage. At least 12,000 structures remain threatened.

Officials have advised residents in the Upper Ojai Valley, Casitas Springs Foster Park and entire City of Ventura boil all tap water for at least a minute before using it for cooking or drinking.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the following areas Thursday:

There are no evacuations in Santa Barbara County at this time.

A map of the Thomas Fire provided by readyventuracounty.org.

Evacuation information can also be found at readyventuracounty.org.

The following communities are under voluntary evacuations Thursday:

The following evacuation shelters are opened to residents:

The following schools and districts will be closed through Friday, according to the Ventura County Office of Education:

The following road closures are in place Thursday:

Ojai Valley & Ojai City & Unincorporated Areas


The train tracks from Carpinteria to Faria Beach are closed and there are no Amtrak services in Ventura County. Those needing assistance with animal shelters can contact 866-387-8911.

Powerful winds all week long have made the situation all the more difficult for firefighters.

Red flag warnings are in effect for the Ventura County area through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

The Thomas Fire began Monday evening north of Santa Paula, according to Cal Fire.

No official cause of the fire has been determined.

Those who would like to help the fire relief efforts were asked to send donations to redcross.org.

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