4000 firefighters now battling wildfire in Ventura and Santa Barbara County

11 hours ago

A brush fire exploded Monday night into a fierce wildfire burning over 231 square miles between Ojai, Santa Paula and Ventura - and now westward into Santa Barbara County. 3,993 firefighters are now on the scene battling the blaze, and the Ventura County Fire Department says strong, erratic winds expected throughout the weekend continue to presenting a challenge for containment, now at 15 percent. 

UPDATE 12/09/17 5 P.M.  Since Monday, the Thomas Fire has destroyed 537 homes and businesses and damaged another 118. Today more evacuation orders were lifted for Ventura County, Santa Barbara County and parts of the city of Ventura. Click here to see map. The fire is expanding northward into the Sespe Wilderness. The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management sent an email Saturday announcing "effective 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 9, residents will be permitted into the Shepherd Mesa and Gobernador Canyon area as it has been reduced from a mandatory evacuation (order) to a voluntary evacuation (warning). All areas south of Highway 192 , including the city of Carpinteria, are no longer under any evacuation status."

UPDATE 12/08/17 5:45 P.M. Mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been lifted in the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula. Click here to see a detailed list. 

UPDATE 12/08/17 10 A.M. Thursday night, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County and asked for federal assistance in fighting the Thomas Fire. Earlier this week, Brown declared a state of emergency in Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. The fire is now at 10 percent containment; it grew overnight by about 25 square miles. Approximately 15,000 homes and businesses are currently threatened by the blaze.

UPDATE 12/07/17 6 P.M. A town hall meeting is scheduled tonight in Carpinteria. Fire officials in charge of fighting the Thomas Fire will provide a briefing and answer questions. The Ventura County Fire Department said the meeting starts at 8 p.m. at Carpinteria High School, located at 4810 Foothill Road in Carpinteria. The zip code is 93013. 

UPDATE 12/07/17 1:30 P.M. The Santa Barbara Unified School District announced all schools will remain closed Thursday and Friday. Santa Barbara City College has closed as well through Saturday. 

UPDATE 12/07/17 11 P.M. CalFire reports the Thomas Fire has destroyed 73 homes, three businesses and 15 outbuildings since Monday night, and an assessment is ongoing, so those numbers could change. 15,000 homes and businesses remain under threat. Most schools in the area are closed, as is Santa Barbara City College. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the Carpinteria area in Santa Barbara County, as the fire has pushed westward. Evacuation centers are operating in the cities of Santa Paula, Ojai, Ventura, Oxnard and Fillmore. Animal evacuations are being directed to the Ventura County Fairgrounds. For more detailed information, click here to see the Thomas Fire Incident Update.

UPDATE 12/06/17 8 P.M. CalFire officials report the fire has grown to over 140 square miles, with five percent containment. 12,000 homes and businesses are considered threatened.

UPDATE 12/06/17 11:48 A.M: The Thomas Fire has grown to over 101 square miles and remains at zero percent containment. 150 structures have burned, and firefighters say strong winds are expected to fan the flames Thursday. Click here to see a list of mandatory evacuation areas.

For information on the Thomas Fire, the Ventura County Fire Department is directing people to visit readyventuracounty.org or call the fire hotline at (805) 465-6650. Mandatory evacuations were issued for the entire community of Casitas Springs; in the east Ojai Valley: Carne Road east to McAndrew Road and Reeves Road north to Thacher Road; and in the city of Ventura: Victoria Road east to Hill Road, Telegraph Road north to Foothill Road, North Ashwood Avenue east to Hill Road, Telegraph Road north to Foothill Road, Teloma east to Brent Street and Telegraph Road north to north of Foothill Road.

The fire started around 6:30 p.m. on December 4 north of Santa Paula near Highway 150, and has burned towards Highway 33. The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 150 from Ojai to Santa Paula.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Santa Barbara County announced it had set up at additional evacuation shelter at UCSB Multi Activity Center, located at 552 University Road in Santa Barbara. The zip code is 93106. The county is directing evacuees to enter the UCSB campus through the main east entrance.

43,000 Southern California Edison electricity customers were without power as of 4 p.m. Tuesday. We will continue to update this post as more information becomes available.