California wildfire spreads to tony Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara firefighters struggle to contain massive blaze with no rain in sight

The city of Santa Paula lifted mandatory evacuations as containment reached 15 percent as of around 7:49 a.m. Saturday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The Southern California wildfire raged on through Sunday, threatening the idyllic beach communities of Santa Barbara County as the Thomas Fire crosses the 200,000 acre damage mark.

David Clark, information officer for Cal Fire, said the city of Ojai itself was not threatened as of Saturday afternoon.

California Governor Jerry Brown said many scientists believe more extreme fire seasons are part of the pinch of climate change.

"We've not done this in my tenure in the district", said Santa Maria-Bonita spokeswoman Maggie White, who has worked for the district for 21 years. "It's been a bad tragedy for so many people".

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- Areas north of Highway 192, east of Buena Vista Drive - including the 900 block of Park Lane - all the way to the Santa Barbara County line. They have claimed at least one human casualty: Virginia Pesola, 70, died in a Wednesday auto accident along an evacuation route from the Thomas Fire. The medical examiner said the cause of her death was blunt force injuries, smoke inhalation and heat injuries.

Santa Barbara County, which dubs itself "the American Riviera", lies just northwest of Los Angeles. President Donald Trump issued a federal proclamation that enables agencies to coordinate relief efforts. The lifting of several evacuation orders reduced the number of people displaced from their homes to 87,000 on Saturday. They include low humidity and strong winds. Throughout the area, officials reported gains in their battle to contain the fires.

REUTERS/Gene BlevinsFirefighters attack the Thomas Fire's north flank with backfires as they continue to fight a massive wildfire north of Los Angeles, near Ojai, California, U.S., December 9, 2017.

The 421-acre Skirball Fire, which broke out Wednesday in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, was 75 percent contained.

At least 45 horses were killed as the blaze burned through a thoroughbred training facility, San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall, where at least 450 horses were being stabled.

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