Thomas Fire to become largest wildfire in California history as winds intensify

Gusty winds will kick up and become troublesome for firefighting efforts in Southern California into Friday.

The Thomas Fire is likely to become California’s largest wildfire on record, when it tops 273,246 acres burned, from the Cedar Fire in October 2003. As of Wednesday evening, Dec. 20, the Thomas Fire has charred 272,000 acres.

Another Santa Ana wind event will unfold into early Friday, with canyons and passes from Santa Barbara through San Diego becoming subject to damaging winds.

” data-reactid=”14″>”Wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph will be possible in the canyons and passes but could reach up to 60 mph in the mountains through Thursday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Static Cali Fire Into Friday

These winds have the potential to become damaging both in spreading any fires and in toppling trees and power lines.

As a result, residents and tourists should prepare for the threat of closed roads and other travel disruptions as well as some property damage.

“The uptick in the wind threatens to hamper containment efforts of the devastating Thomas Fire and reverse firefighter’s progress earlier this week,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott.

He pointed out that the fire may be fanned southward toward the larger population centers of Ventura and Oxnard later this week as a result of the gusty, northerly winds.

The Thomas Fire has caused two fatalities. Over 6,800 personnel are working around the clock to increase the fire’s containment level, which is currently 60 percent.

No rain is forecast into next week. Due to dry air and dry brush, the threat of new fires igniting will continue well after the winds die down. Outdoor flames of any kind, tossing cigarette butts and parking cars over dry brush should be avoided.

While winds will diminish for a time later Friday through Saturday, cold air plunging across the West and a strong area of high pressure developing over the Great Basin will lead to another round of gusty winds beginning later this weekend.

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