Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire exploded in size Sunday, forcing more people in the path of the unpredictable flames to get out with their lives.
The so-called Thomas fire has burned about 200,000 acres and is only 15 percent contained, Fox 11 reported. The fire grew by more than 25,000 acres during the day, the Los Angeles Times added. Officials ordered new evacuations for people living east of Mission Canyon and north of Highway 192.
“Some places the smoke is going straight up in the air, and others it’s blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we’re in,” Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason said. “The winds are kind of squirrely right now.”
Thousands of homes and businesses in the county were without power.
The air thick with acrid smoke, even residents of areas not under evacuation orders took the opportunity to leave, fearing another shutdown of U.S. 101, a key coastal highway that was closed intermittently last week. Officials handed out masks to residents who stayed behind in Montecito, the wealthy hillside enclave that’s home to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Rob Lowe. (Read more from “New Evacuations as Huge Southern California Fire Flares Up” HERE)