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Firefighter killed in Thomas Fire, 4th largest in California history

A smoke-filled sky filters sunlight around a surfer as the Thomas Fire continues to grow and threaten communities from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara on December 12, 2017.
A smoke-filled sky filters sunlight around a surfer as the Thomas Fire continues to grow and threaten communities from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara on December 12, 2017.
David McNew/Getty Images

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Evacuations | Road closures | School closures | Map

A fire engineer from Cal Fire's San Diego unit was killed by the colossal wildfire burning northwest of Los Angeles. He has been identified as Cory Iverson.

"I am very saddened to report that a firefighter fatality has occurred on the Thomas Incident," Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said in a statement. "Please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers."

The Thomas Fire became the fourth largest in California history and authorities said it would likely keep growing and threatening communities as hot, gusty winds fanned the flames.

State officials said Thursday that the so-called Thomas Fire straddling coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties covered 379 square miles, or 242,500 acres. That surpassed the Zaca Fire, which burned a little more than 240,000 acres of inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago.

Firefighting costs so far were tallied at $74.7 million, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Some evacuations were lifted and the risk to the agricultural city of Fillmore was diminishing. But coastal enclaves to the west remained under threat as crews protected hillside homes in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

Ventura County Fire officials said Thursday that fire activity will increase in the Fillmore and Sespe wilderness areas throughout the day. 

Schools were closed and many roads remained shut down. The USA Water Polo Women's National Team match against the Netherlands scheduled for Saturday in Santa Barbara was moved to Orange County.

The National Weather Service said extreme fire danger conditions could last through the weekend due to lack of moisture along with a likely increase in wind speeds. Gusts were expected to top 35 mph by midday Thursday.

Firefighters made some progress Wednesday on corralling the fire, which continued to spread mostly into national forest land.

Since the blaze broke out on Dec. 4, it has burned destroyed 970 buildings — including at least 700 homes. Flames threatened some 18,000 buildings and prompted evacuations of about 100,000 people. Covering more ground than the city of San Diego, it was 30 percent contained.

Evacuations

Mandatory:

Voluntary:

A motorists on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
A motorists on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Noah Berger/AP

Road closures

A firefighter works to extinguish the Thomas Fire as it burns past the 101 Highway towards the Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura, California, Dec. 7, 2017.
A firefighter works to extinguish the Thomas Fire as it burns past the 101 Highway towards the Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura, California, Dec. 7, 2017.
Kyle Grillot/AFP/Getty Images

School closures