California's Thomas Wildfire Is Now The Largest In The State's History

California's Thomas Wildfire Is Now The Largest In The State's History

Strong winds, steep terrain and low humidity made it hard for firefighters to gain the upper hand on the fire as it moved through parts of Ojai, Casitas Springs and La Conchita. Fewer have experienced Christmas on a large fire.

Above: The perimeter of the 427-square-mile fire overlaid on the Bay Area.

Hundreds of people fled their homes as the Thomas fire swept into the city December 4. The Cedar fire had been recognized as the biggest California wildfire in terms of acreage since 1932. Some fires before that date undoubtedly were larger but records are unreliable, according to state fire officials. The fire eventually moved into Santa Barbara County, threatening Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, after devastating much of downtown Ventura.

However, larger fires may predate the list, including the Santiago Canyon Fire of 1889 that reportedly burned 300,000 acres.

On Thursday, authorities cancelled the last evacuation notices still in effect for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

A newly planted tree also survived the fire.

During the two-plus weeks the fires have burned, at least 95,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate, Cal Fire has said.

The ODF and association firefighters were part of more than 8,400 firefighters assigned to combat the fire, which is now 60 percent contained.

One of the trees was knocked down by wind during the summer, the other one survived the fire.

Brush and timber in the area remain tinder dry, and fire crews are setting backfires to burn it out, and that could add to the fire's size.