The battle against the massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara continues, with firefighters able to protect homes, and other buildings in hot spot areas Thursday.
The fire is expected to top the 100,000 acre mark when the latest information on the blaze is released Thursday night. It currently stands at 96,000 acres, with 5% containment.
The potentially dangerous Santa Ana winds predicted for the overnight hours were weaker than expected, but the wind did pick up in spots during the day. Early Thursday morning, the fire pushed west in the mountains just north of Highway 101, forcing the highway’s closure and pushing the blaze into Santa Barbara County. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the 300 residents of Rincon Point, but the fire didn’t reach the community.
Strong afternoon wind help build up a massive plume of smoke near Ojai, but the fire didn’t push down into the valley. And, during the midday hours embers pushed by wind ignited some heavy brush between Highway 101 and the Old State Highway, threatening dozens of homes at Faria Beach. Traffic was disrupted on Highway 101 for more than a half hour, but firefighters were able to protect the beachfront homes from the flames.
Forecasters say wind, and high fire danger will remain in the forecast until Saturday, but the intensity of the wind is expected to decrease as we move into the weekend.