This story is no longer being updated. For the most recent developments of the Thomas Fire, please go here.
Crews battling Southern California's enormous wildfire are struggling to widen and extend firebreaks before the return of winds that could once again drive the flames out of control. The fire is the second-largest in 85 years of recorded California history. It's expected to become the largest as flames continue to eat into forest land, though it remained at 272,000 acres on Wednesday evening with the same containment numbers.
Forecasts call for 20- to 30-mph winds with gusts to 60 mph by Wednesday evening in the coastal mountains northeast of Los Angeles. That will end a three-day lull that allowed firefighters to contain about 60 percent of the Thomas fire, which is burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Since it began on Dec. 4, the wind-whipped blaze has burned hundreds of homes and is blamed for the deaths of a firefighter and an evacuee.
It has burned 272,000 acres, destroying nearly 800 homes and damaging hundreds more.
The largest on record was the 2003 Cedar Fire, which burned a little more than 273,000 acres in San Diego County. Cal Fire unit chief Scott Jalbert told KPCC the Thomas Fire is almost certain to surpass it.
"The increase of acreage is coming from the backside of the fire off the Highway 33. That's the area where the fire's extremely remote into very rugged areas," Jalbert said.
Crews are working to tame the northern edge of the fire, where it meets the rough terrain of the Los Padres National Forest.
Firefighters have largely contained the fire's front end near Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Montecito, but they're still mopping up hot spots in those areas.
More evacuations were lifted Tuesday, but communities remain threatened in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Despite the return of high winds, Jalbert said they expect to extinguish the Thomas Fire by Sunday.
A firefighter and a fleeing civilian have died in the fire.
Santa Barbara County
- Montecito and Summerland area north of Alameda Padre Sierra/South Salinas Street and Highway 101, south of State Route 192, east of Mission Canyon Road, and west of Hot Springs/Summit Road (STB 1, 7, 8 & MTO 8, 9)
- The area north of State Route 192, south of East Camino Cielo, East of San Roque/Jesusita Lane and West of Ladera Lane (SBC 15, 16 & MTO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
Unincorporated Ventura County
- Residents and day visitors of Rose Valley
Santa Barbara County
- The area north of Highway 101, south of State Route 192, west of Toro Canyon Road, and east of Olive Mill Road/Hot Springs Road (MTO 10, 11 & CRP 7, 8)
- The area north of State Street/Constance Avenue/Garden Street/E. Los Olivos Street, west of Mission Canyon Road/Los Olivos Street, south of State Route 192, and east of Old Mill Road/Stage Coach Road (SBC 24, 25 & STB 22, 23, 24)
- The area south of State Street, west of S. Hope Avenue, east of Modoc Road at Las Palmas Drive, and north of Modoc Road at Calle De Los Amigos (SBC 24, 25)
- Painted Cave community includes the area north of Hwy 154 and south of East Camino Cielo along Painted Cave (SBC 90)
- East of N Patterson Avenue at La Josa Road, north of Cathedral Oaks Road, west of Hwy 154, and south of the intersection of Highway 154 and N. San Marcos Road (near top of San Marcos Pass). Portions of N. San Marcos Rd S/B from Hwy 154/Painted Cave are not in a voluntary zone (SBC 12)
- North of State Route 192 (Foothill Road) to East Camino Cielo in between Highway 154 and North Ontare Road (SBC 13, 14)
- SR 33 from Fairview Ave, Ojai to Ventucopa
- Highway 150 between Ojai and Santa Paula from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Santa Barbara County:
State Route 192 at:
- Cravens Lane
- Toro Canyon Road (Lower)
- Toro Canyon Road (Upper)
- La Cumbre
- Mission Canyon/Tomoe Road
- Mission Canyon Fire House
- La Mirada
- Ladera Lane
- Ortega Ridge Road
- Sheffield Drive
- Lilac Drive
- Park Lane
- San Ysidro Road
- Hot Springs Road
- Hot Springs at E. Pepper Lane
- Hot Springs at School House Road
- Hot Springs at Olive Mill Road (Upper)
- Hot Springs at Olive Mill Road (Lower)
- Olive Mill Road at San Benito Way
- Olive Mill Road at N. Jameson Lane
- Hot Springs at Coast Village
- Olive Mill at Coast Village
This story has been updated.