Red Flag Warning Extended Again Amid Wildfires, Marking Longest Stretch in SoCal Since 2004

A Red Flag warning that was first issued on Dec. 2 was extended yet again Tuesday, in what the National Weather Service confirmed marked the longest stretch for one to be in effect in Southern California since the agency began tracking them in 2004.

A huge plume of smoke rises north of Ventura as seen Sunday afternoon from the Ventura pier, as the Thomas fire threatens parts of Carpinteria and Montecito. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

At least six wildfires have carved paths of destruction through Southern California since last Monday, fueled in part by powerful Santa Ana winds and low humidity that has plummeted at times into single digits.

The largest is the 368-square-mile Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, which continues to burn out of control into its second week. As of Tuesday, the massive inferno — which became the state’s fifth largest on Sunday — charred 236,000 acres, destroyed more than 900 structures and threatened an additional 18,000.

Since taking effect over a week ago, forecasters have extended the Red Flag warnings four times — on Dec. 6, Dec. 7, Monday and Tuesday.

The latest extension means the warnings will be in place in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through 10 a.m. Friday, forecasters said. The areas impacted include the L.A. and Ventura county mountains, as well as the Ventura and Santa Clarita valleys.

Winds with gusts of 40 to 50 mph are possible during this time, according to the weather service.

A fire weather watch will also be in place from 6 a.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Friday along the L.A. and Ventura county coasts and the San Fernando Valley.

Meanwhile, in Santa Barbara County — where the Thomas Fire was threatening the communities of Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito — forecasters warned of elevated to near critical fire weather conditions as periods of gusty winds of 15 to 30 mph were expected through the week.

Conditions could change Saturday afternoon when winds shift, although that could bring gusty winds to the I-5 corridor and southern Santa Barbara County, forecasters noted. Humidity is expected to improve at that point.

KTLA’s Kacey Montoya and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report. 




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