Areas of concern for firefighters include the coastal communities of Santa Barbara, Summerland and Montecito, as well as the Matilija Wilderness and Rose Valley, according to Cal Fire. Fire officials counter that these events, which are low-intensity and are conducted in cooler temperatures during high humidity and calm wind conditions, produce significantly less smoke than wildfires, which have the capacity to destroy all growth in their path.
The 422-square-mile blaze is 45 percent contained. Officials do not expect full containment of the fire until January 7.
"I was able to move back home today and I was greeted with quite a bit of dust and ash but I was very happy to get back to my home", said Sarah Ettman, who lives in what is now a voluntary evacuation zone.
"It's been pretty much a ghost town since the fires", said Soria. "If you hold the compass up, it burned north to south, right down the canyons - Romero, Cold Spring Canyon - and it burned in and around a number of homes", said Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority, one of many agencies involved in the firefight.
There is no other rain in sight through at least Christmas, thanks to a persistent high-pressure system over the western U.S., Bruno said. The devastating fire, which broke out Dec.4, threatens homes northwest of Los Angeles in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. About 18,000 structures remain threatened.
For Thomas Fire updates, visit Santa Barbara County's website and Ventura County's emergency page. Fire activity has decreased in that area, but firefighters wanted to use the favorable wind conditions to their advantage there, Negrete said.
Everything about the fire has been major, from the sheer scale of destruction that affected entire neighborhoods to the legions of people attacking it.
The Thomas fire is creating what may be an economic catastrophe for Santa Barbara local businesses.
The cause remains under investigation. So far, firefighting costs have surpassed $117 million.