A sprawling Southern California wildfire that has been burning through rugged, drought-parched coastal terrain since December 4 has become the largest on record in the state, state fire officials said on Friday. That was 154 acres larger than California's previous fire record holder, the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County.
In an update issued Saturday evening, fire officials said the blaze was being fought on National Forest System lands and away from the coastal urban enclaves it once plowed through.
Dry conditions throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have compounded problems for firefighters.
On Thursday, authorities canceled the last evacuation notices still in effect for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. As of Friday, the firefight against the Thomas Fire had cost over $170 million and burned through more than 1,060 buildings, leaving a path of destruction as about 2,800 firefighters battled the blaze.
The Thomas fire continues to creep closer to becoming the California's largest wildfire on record, but its days of destroying homes and menacing communities appear to be over. The Thomas fire had already burned an area larger than Manhattan but has spread to an area larger than "New York City, Washington, DC, and San Francisco combined" according to CNN.
Officials say the only visible flame was on the northern side of the fire where controlled burns set by firefighters to clear vegetation were being conducted. A train of personnel moves along setting the fire making sure no fire jumps the control line or gets out of hand, Vaccaro said. Most evacuation zones have been lifted, allowing Californians to return to their homes and assess the damage. Thousands of people have been evacuated and hundreds of structures have been destroyed. The Cedar fire had been recognized as the biggest California wildfire in terms of acreage since 1932.
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