Thomas Fire Grows to almost 395 Square Miles

Winds temporarily calm on lines of huge California wildfire

A 32-year-old firefighter assigned to the largest wildfire burning in Southern California has died.

Cory Iverson, 32, had been with Cal Fire for eight years, according to officials.

They had black bands on their badges in honor of Corey Iverson, the Cal Fire engineer who died in an accident while fighting the Thomas fire in Fillmore.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean called for a moment of silence in Iverson's memory Thursday night at an informational meeting for residents of the rural town of Fillmore, near an eastern flank of the fire. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

"As I was up in the canyon and I watched his fire brethren remove his flag-draped body from the canyon in the hills above where we sit right here, I couldn't help but think about his pregnant wife and his young daughter who will never see their husband and father again, " Dean said.

Officials are investigating the incident, said Julia Martony, another Cal Fire spokeswoman, and it will take some time to conclude.

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More than 8,000 people are still working to contain the sprawling fire.

Santa Ana winds will continue into Saturday and Sunday, said Rich Thompson with the National Weather Service.

By Friday morning, the fire had grown to 252,500 acres and it was 35% contained, according to Cal Fire. A fire weather watch is in effect through the weekend, and winds are expected to reach up to 30 miles per hour on mountain ridgetops.

Calming winds Friday gave firefighters a chance to gain ground against a huge wildfire in coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles but forecasters warned that conditions would remain dry and warm and the respite from gusts would only be temporary. That surpassed a blaze that burned inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago. A 70-year-old woman was killed in a auto crash while evacuating as the fire raged last week. A full list of evacuations and road closures can be found on the County of Santa Barbara and Ventura County websites.

Cal Fire's Scott McLean said Iverson's death was devastating.

On Wednesday, Cal Fire tweeted that more than 8,000 firefighters and almost 1,000 engines were battling the blaze, which was then at 238,500 acres, but was 30 percent contained.

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