12-30-2017 Daily Update Thomas Fire
Incident: Thomas Fire Wildfire
December 30, 2017 8 a.m.
Start Date: December 4, 2017 Cause: Under Investigation Size: 281,893 acres
Containment: 92% Personnel: 632 Structures Destroyed: 1,063 Structures Damaged: 280
Current Situation: Crews are continuing to do mop up and fire suppression repair. Yesterday, crews and helicopters responded to a ¼- to ½-acre of active fire yesterday within the fire perimeter near Gibraltar Road. Crews continue tending to hot spots within the fire perimeter and monitoring for smoke and sporadic fire activity within pockets of unburned vegetation. The area continues to experience record high temperatures and low relative humidities for this time of year and additional fire activity can be expected. If you see fire activity near established control lines, call 911 to report it.
Highway 33 was opened to the public last night at 6 p.m. Travelers should note, however, that National Forest System lands within the Thomas Fire burn area remain closed to the public.
The Los Padres National Forest issued a Forest Order effective Jan. 1, 2018 through the end of the 2018 fire season. Level 3 fire restrictions are in effect with campfires allowed only in designated use sites and no fires allowed in the backcountry; portable stoves and lanterns (with an on-off switch) are only permitted with a valid California Campfire Permit.
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.
The federal Burn Area Emergency Response team and California Watershed Emergency Response Team 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 becomes more 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.
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.
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: Winds should be less than 15 mph and remain mostly off shore. Daytime maximum temperatures will be near normal to slightly above normal. Conditions across Ventura/Santa Barbara counties will remain dry with poor to occasionally good overnight relative humidity recovery. 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