Many Thomas Fire firefighters spending first Christmas battling wildfire

Many Thomas Fire firefighters spending first Christmas battling wildfire

The Thomas Fire is now number one, having surpassed both the Rush Fire in August 2012 that burned 271,911 acres in California (and 43,666 acres in Nevada) and the Cedar Fire in October 2003 that burned 273,246 acres.

The rough perimeter of the Thomas Fire (in red) and the Santa Barbara County evacuation zone (blue) are shown in the map below.

Firefighters keep watch on the Thomas wildfire in the hills and canyons outside Montecito, California, U.S., December 16, 2017.

2017 has been a record year for California wildfires, and this holiday season, the Thomas wildfire in the southern parts of the state has become the largest fire recorded in state history.

On Wednesday, as the fire continued to march north and west, Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Zaniboni was awed by the speed of its growth. It's torched an area much larger than New York City.

Often erratic gusts combined with extremely low humidity - it dropped to just 1 percent on some days - pushed the blaze with virtually unprecedented speed, blackening more ground in weeks than other fires had consumed in a month or more.

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The total number of firefighters working the Thomas Fire is 2,512 comprised of 116 fire engines, 61 fire crews, 26 helicopters, 19 bulldozers, and 31 water tenders.

A couple of apartment buildings also burned down.

The state sent firefighters south as part of a mutual-aid agreement that brought California firefighters to assist with OR wildfires last summer.

This year has been the costliest for wildfires in U.S. history.

Cal Fire said there were flare-ups of hot spots within areas already burned on Saturday, but no danger reported to homes or people were seen.

There are now no mandatory evacuation orders in effect. Damage has topped $10 billion - and that was before the current fires began in Southern California.

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