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Thomas fire becomes largest in California recorded history

Thomas fire becomes largest in California recorded history

The massive Thomas Fire, now considered the largest wildfire in modern California history, inched up to 78 percent containment by Saturday evening - a 13 percent rise from the night before. At 273,246 acres, the Cedar fire killed 15 people and burned almost 3,000 structures before officials were able to get a handle on it. Tearing across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties for the past few weeks, the massive fire has been linked to two deaths, including a Cal Fire engineer from the San Diego area named Cory Iverson. In October, a series of fires in wine country burned more than 10,000 homes and killed more than 40 people.

Conditions have improved in recent days, with cooler, more-humid winds lessening the threat to homes and other buildings, the AP reported.

Firefighters continued to make progress on the Thomas fire Friday as the monster inferno was within 500 acres of becoming the largest California wildfire on record.

Deadline adds that the Thomas fire threatened celebrity havens Montecito and Santa Barbara, with almost 100,000 evacuated and a slew of famous names showing gratitude to firefighters battling the blaze and trying to save the area. Several days of easing winds allowed crews to burn and bulldoze protective firebreaks in the foothills above threatened communities, including the celebrity enclave of Montecito. Firefighters have been battling the flames for almost three weeks in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and are expected to continue working around the clock until January 7, fire officials said. Now only a remote wilderness valley is under an evacuation order.

If that rate of burn continues, and no rain falls between now and the end of next week, the Thomas fire may become the largest fire in state history.

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