12-29-2017 Daily Update Thomas Fire
Incident: Thomas Fire Wildfire
December 29, 2017 8:00AM
Start Date: December 4, 2017 Cause: Under Investigation Size: 281,893 acres
Containment: 92% Personnel: 620 Structures Destroyed: 1,063 Structures Damaged: 280
Current Situation: The Los Padres National Forest has reduced its closure order to only the Thomas Fire perimeter on National Forest System lands within the Santa Barbara and Ojai Ranger Districts. The Mount Pinos Ranger District is now open to the public.
Crews continued tending to hot spots within the fire perimeter and monitoring for smoke and sporadic fire activity within pockets of unburned vegetation. No forward progress of the fire is expected. The region is experiencing temperatures 10-20 degrees above normal; however, winds remain favorable, blowing any embers back into the burned area.
The federal Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) team and California Watershed Emergency Response Team (WERT) are assessing areas within the Thomas Fire for burn severity and identifying locations at risk for flooding, debris flows and other post-fire hazards. The teams will turn over their data to Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management and Ventura County Office of Emergency Services, who will develop emergency preparedness and response plans for their respective communities.
As the wildfire is contained, firefighting efforts are shifting to repairing damage caused by suppression efforts. Common suppression tactics and activities that displace vegetation and disturb soil are fire line construction (dozer and hand line), as well as the clearing of terrain for helispots, safety zones, spike camps, staging areas and creating access to water sources. Roads also can be damaged from the increased use of heavy equipment.
Suppression repair techniques, such as constructing water bars to dissipate water or slow its flow, as well as returning or scattering shrubs and herbaceous plants along created contingency lines, reduces erosion and returns a natural seed source to the environment. Suppression repair also mitigates visual impacts on the landscape and works on reducing the establishment of noxious weeds. Suppression repair also protects sensitive habitat, natural or cultural resource areas, as well as prevents the unauthorized establishment or use of trails or roads.
The Incident Command Team is preparing to transfer management of the incident to the Los Padres National Forest. Team leaders will discuss the transition today with transfer of command planned for 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30.
Air quality remains good to moderate in Santa Barbara, Ventura and surrounding areas. Visitors are encouraged to make plans to enjoy the region during the upcoming holiday weekend. Businesses are open and eager to serve the public.
There are hotspots above the Hartman Ranch which are well within the fire perimeter. In the coming days, people may see smoke, firefighters, and helicopters in this area, but there is no expectation that the fire will make any movement outside established containment lines.
Hotspots also remain in the Bear Heaven area. Air support is implementing water drops in that area due to steep, rugged terrain with limited access. Additional aircraft remain available in the event there are flare-ups or new fire starts in the area.
Residents and visitors to Santa Barbara and Ventura counties may see an increase in wildlife in local communities due to displacement from the fire. Individuals who encounter these displaced animals are encouraged to maintain a safe distance, refrain from feeding them, and if a threat to humans is perceived, call 911 (https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/living-with-wildlife).
Fire Weather: Wind: expected to remain light. Temp: 70s/80s along the ridges and upper slopes. Humidity: decreasing to around 15% overnight over inland parts of the fire areas with coastal /Front Country areas reporting 50% degrees above normal in some locations. Rainfall chances are near zero through the end of the year into early January 2018.
Air Quality: Smoke may be visible at times due to interior hotspots that come to life as dry weather conditions persist. The Ventura County Fire Department is working to extinguish several oil seep fires ignited by the Thomas Fire in the Upper Ojai area. An updated air quality report may be found at http://www.ourair.org or http://www.vcapcd.org