Thomas Fire: More evacuations ordered as wildfire in Ventura County grows

Thomas Fire: More evacuations ordered as wildfire in Ventura County grows
Posted at 5:44 AM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 21:16:50-05

(KGTV) - More evacuations have been ordered as the massive Thomas Fire in Ventura County continues to leave a path of destruction.

With more wind expected to fan the flames of the 4-day-old fire, Santa Barbara County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for about 300 residents in the town of Carpinteria.

The evacuees join the tens of thousands of people forced to leave their homes after the fire erupted Monday in the Santa Paula area of Ventura County.

Thus far, the Thomas Fire has scorched at least 96,000 acres and is at 5% containment. Officials believe the blaze will only get bigger as the conditions worsen into the weekend.

At 96,000 acres, the fire is roughly the size of the city of Denver.

According to Cal Fire, about 150 structures have been destroyed and another 12,000 are currently threatened.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Thomas Fire coverage map, evacuation zones

Cal Fire says nearly 1,800 firefighters are continuing to battle the blaze. Numerous aircraft are also assisting ground crews with water drops.

"Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they're taking beating, too, but they're cooperating with our orders," said Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

The battle to douse the blaze is especially arduous on the Santa Barbara-Ventura County line, where the terrain is steep and rugged, he said. Fire officials hope to get as many as a dozen helicopters in the air Thursday, but the winds have been playing havoc on the choppers and fixed-wing aircraft, Kruschke said.

RELATED: Southern California wildfires: What you need to know

Stretches of Highway 101, closed during the onset of the fire, were reopened Thursday morning, but California Highway Patrol officials advised motorists to not take the highway between Ventura and Santa Barbara, if possible.

Click here for the latest road closure and evacuation information

The smoke from the fires could be seen from the International Space Station. Astronaut Randy Bresnik wrote in one tweet: "I was asked this evening if we can see the SoCal fires from space. Yes Faith, unfortunately we can. May the Santa Ana's die down soon. #Californiawildfire."

CNN contributed to this report