FIRE UPDATES: While the Rye Fire nears containment, Thomas Fire continues to burn

A firefighter works to pull hoseline off the side of reserve engine 5134 near Westinghouse Place and Avenue Stanford during the Rye Fire on Dec. 5, 2017. Austin Dave/The Signal

As of Sunday afternoon, five wildfires are continuing to burn in Southern California as a result of the Red Flag conditions – typified by high winds and low digit humidity – that have struck the region late into this calendar year.

A myriad of agencies including the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department, LAFD, Cal Fire, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have combatted the numerous blazes; and the Rye and Creek fires are nearly contained.

Rye Fire

According to a Cal Fire briefing, the Rye Fire has been held at 6,049 acres and has reached 90 percent perimeter containment as of Sunday morning.

“Last night firefighters continued to make progress containing the fire,” the briefing read. “[On Sunday] crews will continue to mop up to ensure the fire remains within the established control lines.”

652 total personnel are still assigned to the blaze, including 55 engines and two helicopters.

Cal Fire expects to have the Rye Fire fully contained by Dec. 15, 2017.

The Rye Fire initially broke in one of Santa Clarita’s largest industrial parks at 9:32 a.m. on Tuesday near the 25100 block of Rye Canyon Loop. 

Stevenson Ranch residents watch as flames from the Rye Fire crept ever closer to their hillside homes on Tuesday. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

The fire was quickly propelled across the 5 freeway by gusts of Santa Ana wind that approached 60 mph; and as it began to move westbound down the 126 corridor, West Ranch High School and Rancho Pico Junior High School were evacuated.

Since such time, however, fire crews have held the western edge of the fire line to Portero Canyon Road – a route typically closed to the public that connects Pico Canyon Road and State Route 126.

Thomas Fire

The record breaking Thomas Fire has scorched 173,000 acres in Ventura County in what is now the largest conflagration to burn in county history.

It is the largest fire ever recorded in California during the month of December and is the 19th largest overall fire in state history. As of Sunday, it is only 15 percent contained.

“Moderate Santa Ana winds pushed the fire last night and will continue through early this afternoon,” the Ventura County Fire Department said, “causing the fire to burn actively with significant growth in the Carpinteria area.”

As a result of the prolonged Santa Ana event, fire officials are expecting the fire to continue to grow on Sunday.

“The fire is expected to spread towards Sespe Wilderness,” the department said.

As the fire moves northbound along the 101 freeway, authorities have issued mandatory evacuations for: all areas between Highway 150 and the 101, Camino Carreta, Rincon Point Rd, Buena Fortuna, Casitas Springs, and Dickenson Ranch Rd.

Portions of the City of Carpinteria were evacuated Saturday night, namely Toro Canyon east to Highway 150 and north of Highway 192.

Students at the University of California, Santa Barbara – a popular college destination for Santa Clarita students – are being prepared to evacuate should the fire continue to progress north. Despite false reports from Saturday night, the university has not been evacuated at this time. 

The Thomas Fire has threatened approximately 15,000 structures — 754 of which were destroyed.

“Firefighters continue to work aggressively to protect life and property while working on control efforts around the fire perimeter,”  the VCFD said. 

4,435 firefighters, from states as far as Colorado and Utah per mutual aid agreements, have been assigned to the fire. 611 engines, 51 dozers and 30 helicopters are on scene.


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