Firefighter Dies in California Wildfire, Now The 4th Largest In The State’s History

California fire officials say the massive Thomas Fire has claimed the life of a firefighter.

“I am very saddened to report that a firefighter fatality has occurred on the Thomas Incident,” Chief Ken Pimlott, the director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, tweeted. “Please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers and all the responders on the front lines in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions.”

Pimlott did not disclose the name of the firefighter, saying only that he was from a CalFire San Diego unit.

The Thomas Fire has charred 242,500 acres and is only 30 percent contained. It is now reported to be the fourth-largest fire in Cailfornia history. Officials say they don’t expect to fully contain it until Jan. 7.

More than 8,100 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is estimated to have caused more than $74.7 million in firefighting costs. Hot gusty winds and bone-dry fuels continue to feed the fire as it threatens communities in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. It has destroyed more than 900 structures, including 729 homes, as it continues to threaten about 18,000 buildings.

The last time Santa Barbara County saw such a ferocious blaze was 10 years ago, when the Zaca Fire burned just over 240,000 acres. The Thomas Fire has surpassed that and is still growing.

“This thing is 60 miles long and 40 miles wide,” fire behavior analyst Tim Chavez told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s a lot of fire out there.”

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