12-31-2017 Daily Update Thomas Fire
Incident: Thomas Fire Wildfire
Goleta, Calif., December 31, 2017—For Immediate Release.
Start Date: December 4, 2017 Cause: Under Investigation Size: 281,893 acres
Containment: 92% Personnel: 508 Structures Destroyed: 1,063 Structures Damaged: 280
Current Situation: Over the holiday weekend crews are focused on repairing the fire lines that were scratched into the landscape in the effort to contain the Thomas Fire. About 112 miles of suppression repair to fire lines has been completed out of approximately 279 miles of containment lines. The remaining work is in steep and remote areas and will take an extended amount of time to complete. Firefighters are also monitoring the areas of Bear Heaven and Rose Valley where there is still slowly burning or smoldering areas of fire. Due to firefighter safety concerns, sparse vegetation and steep, rocky terrain fire managers have decided to monitor the fire activity and allow these areas to burn themselves out.
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 protects sensitive habitat, natural or cultural resource areas, as well as prevents the unauthorized establishment or use of trails or roads.
The public is reminded that even though some roads through closed areas are open, no trails or public access is allowed. Additionally, roads/trails that have been opened may have heavy equipment and/or fire crews working in the area. You are asked to use extreme caution in burned areas as some fire-damaged trees continue to fall and rocks and other debris have been seen rolling down hillsides.
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.
Level 3 fire restrictions are in effect for the Los Padres National Forest. Campfires are allowed only in designated-use sites, and no fires are allowed in the backcountry; portable stoves and lanterns (with an on-off switch) are only permitted with a valid California Campfire Permit.
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.
Not every wildfire affects the landscape in the same way, so areas that may not have been flood- or slide-prone previously may now be at risk. County-based emergency service agencies are reviewing assessment reports from the BAER and WERT teams and working on emergency preparation plans affected communities. After a wildfire, flood risk is usually highest until vegetation returns, which can take up to five years. Flood preparation information is available at: