Two Santa Barbara County residents are accused of fraudulently taking more than 27 million dollars from people in a real estate scam.

Federal prosecutors say Michael Davenport and Cynthia Rawlinson of Santa Barbara were indicted by a grand jury in Illinois on conspiracy charges, as well as on counts of mail and wire fraud.

The Thomas Fire is looming hot and large right above the exclusive San Ysidro Ranch Resort in Montecito.

Flames worked their way into the canyon after traveling from Carpinteria through Toro Canyon and then into nearby Romero Canyon.

The massive Thomas brush fire has surpassed the quarter million acre mark of land burned in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

The fire has burned 252,000 acres, and is 35% contained.  The wind has dropped in much of the fire zone Friday morning, but increased winds are in the forecast for the weekend, creating new concerns for firefighters.

It took the Santa Barbara Zoo decades to put together its acclaimed collection of more than 500 animals. But, thanks to a massive brush fire, the Earl Warren Showgrounds became home to a menagerie of more than 1300 animals in less than a week.

Thursday was a rough day for firefighters, who had to deal with some major issues along parts of the Thomas fire.

There wasn’t a lot of major growth in acreage, with it reaching 249,500 acres, but firefighters had to work hard in some areas to keep the fire from rapidly expanding.

Efforts to fight the massive 240 thousand acre plus Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties claimed the life of a firefighter, leaving the army of public safety works trying to deal with the blaze in shock.

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlot confirmed that a member of the state firefighting agency died in action outside of Fillmore Thursday morning.

A state firefighter has died in the fight against the Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Cal FIRE officials say the firefighter was an engineer based in San Diego. Details of the circumstances surrounding the death haven’t been released yet, but no one else was reported injured.  The name of the firefighter also hasn't been made public yet.

Cal FIRE Chief Ken Pimlott issued a statement asking for everyone’s prayers for the firefighter and his family.

A flareup of the massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties Thursday outside of Fillmore left some Santa Clara River Valley residents worried.

(Ventura County Fire Department photo)

The Thomas brush fire has now charred 242,000 acres of land in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and remains at 30% containment Thursday morning.

Firefighters say they are focused on three active parts of the fire, which include the mountains above Montecito and Santa Barbara, the Matilija wilderness area, and the Sespe wilderness area.

The fire has been an unforgettable, and at times terrifying experience for tens of thousands of people on the South Coast.

Many people have gone through incredible odysseys to escape the flames.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Firefighters say they continue to make progress towards controlling the huge Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

The acreage burned only grew about a thousand acres Wednesday, bringing the total to 238,000 acres. Containment is up from 25% to 30%.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department_

It’s been a long week for tens of thousands of Carpenteria, Summerland, Montecito, and Santa Barbara residents who’ve been evacuated as a result of the Thomas brush fire.

Some of the evacuees have been flocking to a an overlook in Summerland to get a birds-eye view of the fire. Steve Polis is standing on the bluff with a friend, watching the fire in the hills above Summerland and Montecito.

A key Santa Barbara County highway is going to be closed during the early morning hours on a regular basis to help move firefighting equipment to battle the massive Thomas brush fire.

Starting Thursday, Highway 154 will be shut down to the public from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. Commuters will need to take Highway 101 if they are trying to travel between Southern and Northern Santa Barbara County.

It's a reality check about the growth of the Thomas Fire: a new command post has been established at Cachuma Lake in the Santa Ynez Valley.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

As the number of homes lost to the devastating Thomas brushfire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties continues to grow, we hear more and more harrowing stories of the close calls of people fleeing the fast moving flames.

A Santa Barbara County man has one of those stories.

Firefighters successfully stopped the huge Thomas brush fire as it tried to burn down from the Santa Ynez mountain range into Montecito.

The fire moved out of the mountains and downslope to the foothills above the community Tuesday afternoon and evening.  Firefighters used homes in the hills and some roads as key points to create fire lines. 

The massive Thomas brush fire continued to move west in Santa Barbara County Tuesday, with the fire growing to 236,000 acres.

Huge flames lit up the mountains above Summerland and Montecito.  Firefighters spent much of the day trying to build fire breaks to help stop the flames from moving down from the mountains to the homes below.

The massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties has burned across part of the Santa Ynez mountain range northeast of Montecito early Tuesday afternoon, and tried to back down some canyons above the famous mansion-filled community.

Smoke and flames from the fire in the Romero Canyon area are visible from parts of Montecito.  The northern part of the community was evacuated over the weekend, and an army of firefighters has been deployed to try to protect the mansions and ranches in the upscale community. 

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

The massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties had slight growth Monday night into Tuesday, but no major new problems were reported.

The fire went from 231,000 to 234,000 acres, with 20% containment.  The fire has been most active in the mountains northwest of Carpinteria.  Helicopters, air tankers, and backfires were used in the battle to try to keep the inferno out of Carpinteria, and from moving west into Montecito and Santa Barbara.

The DMV is offering some free services to help victims of the Thomas, and other Southern California wildfires.

The Governor issued an emergency proclamation which will allow the agency to help victims with free duplicate driver’s licenses, ID cards, vehicle registrations, and disabled parking placards.

The DMV has set up a center at the Poinsetta Pavilion on Foothill Road in Ventura, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow through Friday, and 9-4 Saturday.

The help for fire victims is also available at other DMV field offices.

There’s more shocking news about the destruction caused by the massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The figure of homes destroyed was already stunning, at 640 homes lost. But, officials tonight updated the number to 868 homes lost.

Firefighters are hoping to get some help from the weather as they work to control a 230,000 acre brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties which has destroyed hundreds of homes.

The week long blaze has been fueled by Santa Ana winds and low humidity.  The wind has eased, but a Red Flag Warning for high fire danger for Ventura County which was expected to end Monday night has been extended to Wednesday.  There are no alerts for Santa Barbara County, but light wind is expected.

We’re getting more details on the number of homes lost to the Thomas blaze, and the figure continues to climb.

The size, and rapid movement of the fire made it difficult for firefighters to get an accurate read at first of how many structures were destroyed or damaged.

The latest numbers show that 644 single family homes were destroyed, and 167 damaged. An additional 138 structures like carports and outbuilding also burned in the blaze. Many of the homes which were lost were in the City of Ventura, and most of the losses were in Ventura County.

A Ventura County based foundation has pledged a half million dollars to help victims of Southern California’s wildfires.

The Amgen Foundation is giving $200,000 to the United Way of Ventura County for its relief efforts. Another $300,000 will go to other efforts to help victims of all of the fires in the southern part of the state.

The Amgen Foundation is the charitable arm of biotech giant Amgen, and among its community projects it helps support science, and technology reporting on KCLU.

As the massive Thomas brush fire has continued to grow in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, it’s impacted more and more lives.

KCLU’s Lance Orozco reports people at a Carpinteria shopping plaza were comparing notes with friends and neighbors about the crisis, and what they think will happen next.

The Albertson’s parking lot off of Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria was jammed with cars Sunday, even though some of the businesses like Starbucks were closed due to fire related power outages.

Photo by Ventura County Fire Department

There’s a way you can support the victims of the Thomas Fire that has charred Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The United Way of Ventura County has set up the Thomas Fire Fund in which 100% of donations will support those impacted by the massive wildfire.

The huge Thomas brush fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties continues to mushroom in size, passing the 230,000 acre market and triggering yet more evacuation orders.

The fire burned tens of thousands of acres in less than 24 hours as it pushed west.  Firefighters say some of the fuel in the mountains above Carpinteria and Summerland hasn't burned for decades.  The fire dropped from 15% to 10% containment.

(Photo courtesy Darrell Keller)

Fire officials say the massive Thomas brush fire on the South Coast has now tops more than 200,000 acres burned.  That's more than 300 square miles.

Firefighters say the blaze charred more than six miles of land as it pushed west from Ventura County to Santa Barbara County overnight Saturday into Sunday.