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Low winds offer reprieve in fight against Thomas fire

Low winds offer reprieve in fight against Thomas fire
The hills above Carpinteria that were burned in the Thomas fire. (Claire Hannah Collins / Los Angeles Times)

Low winds continued to help firefighters make progress against the epic Thomas fire on Sunday, and favorable weather should provide further relief over the Christmas holiday, authorities said.

At 427 square miles, it is the largest fire in California’s modern history, destroying 1,063 structures in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. .

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It was 70% contained as of Saturday evening, with nearly 1,600 firefighters working to put it out, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Officials incorrectly reported earlier that the fire was 78% contained.

With humidity extremely low, some interior portions of the blaze gained intensity Saturday, but there was no new threat to containment lines, the agency said.

Winds are expected to stay below 15 mph until Tuesday night, said Dave Bruno, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

“It looks really good, as far as winds go,” he said. There also is no rain forecast for the days ahead.

Fire officials estimate full containment by Jan. 7, more than a month after the blaze first erupted in Ventura County.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, the Creek fire, which has scorched more than 15,000 acres east of Sylmar, is nearing 100% containment, officials said.

The wind-whipped blaze, which started Dec. 5, destroyed more than 60 homes. Three firefighters sustained minor injuries, and 29 horses were killed in padlocked stalls at a ranch in Sylmar.

Just after the blaze started, witnesses reported seeing a snapped steel power pylon on a high-voltage transmission tower in Little Tujunga Canyon that sent sparks flying.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which owns the pylon, said that there was no break in the line and that fire investigators had not said any of the utility's equipment was suspected in the fire.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

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