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Merry Christmas Eve from #ThomasFireVentura!

December 24, 2017

(Photo: STEWART PALLEY/U.S. FOREST SERVICE)

All I want for Christmas is for the Thomas Fire to be contained, for the oil seeps to stop burning, for the rain to come to wash away the ash and smoke that is making us sick, and for the people who had their homes destroyed by the fire to find new ones.

Oh and of course, peace on earth and good will toward men, women, children, and all creatures on this planet.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

As the Thomas Fire reaches nearly three weeks old, the largest fire in California history nears 275,000 acres and two thirds containment. The Thomas Fire actually began in two places near Thomas Aquinas College between Santa Paula and upper Ojai, and driven by fierce dry east winds, at times in consumed a football field a second, and an acre a minute. Overnight the hills behind my home burned, and then the fire continued in three directions: toward Ojai, Santa Barbara, and Fillmore. At one point there were almost 9,000 firefighters working on the Thomas Fire; about 4,000 will be working today, Christmas eve, and tomorrow, Christmas.

This is Justin. He’s been leading the charge with the helicopter water drops and he teaches armed services how to do it too. Really nice guy with an 11 year old son taking a break from fire duty at Mammoth… and to let the rash on his face from the toxic smoke to heal. So grateful and happy to meet him and express our appreciation!

I’ve heard over 100,000 people were evacuated; I know much of my town, Ojai, the Santa Clara Valley, and Santa Barbara were all under mandatory or voluntary evacuations. Over 1000 structures have been destroyed, many of them homes.

Instead of asking “how are you?” this holiday season, people ask “how did you do in the fire?”

This simple question leads to stories ranging from evacuation and illness to the loss of all physical possessions except the clothes on that person’s back. One friend told me how their house was leveled but their vintage ice cream truck parked on the street remains; the keys, of course, were inside the house and destroyed by the fire.

“We’re okay,” everyone says.

Because as catastrophic as this fire has been, there have only been two associated deaths.

Here’s the latest from December 24, 2017 7:00AM

Start Date: December 4, 2017
Cause: Under Investigation
Size: 273,400 acres
Containment: 70%
Personnel: 1,586
Structures Destroyed: 1,063
Structures Damaged: 280
Current Situation: The fire line from Ventura to Santa Barbara is contained and secure. Even though fuels in the fire area remain critically dry, with shorter days and lack of significant winds, no forward progress of the fire is expected. Firefighters are building upon previous gains by strengthening established containment lines adjacent to communities and other infrastructure. Mop up operations along the fire perimeter and active patrol are ongoing. Repair work is underway to mitigate impacts from fire suppression activity. Firefighting crews and aircraft remain available to address flare-ups or new fire starts in the area.Smoke seen yesterday near Tule Creek was from a hotspot that flared up well within the interior of the burned area. It posed no threat to nearby fire lines. Hotspots remain in the Bear Heaven area. Air support with water drops 1s being used due to steep, rugged terrain with limited access. 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: 10 mph off shore. Temp: Highs in the 60s to low 70s. Humidity: 5-15%.
Closures: Sr33/Fairview Rd. is closed. Portions of Los Padres National Forest remain closed. Download the closure order and map on the Los Padres National Forest web page.
Evacuations: No mandatory evacuation orders.
Air Quality: Smoke may be visible at times due to interior hotspots that come to life as dry weather conditions persist. Smoke and ashfall from these flare-ups may occur in some areas such as Rose Valley and Ojai. An updated air quality report may be found at http://www.ourair.org or http://www.vcapcd.org

I may not get any of what I wished for on Christmas Day — they are predicting containment by January 8, and there’s no rain in sight. Bu there’s plenty to celebrate (read about these sparkling wines from around the world here).

Read about these sparkling wines from Italy, Oregon, France and Spain at Wine Predator.

My family is safe and we are getting better from our #ThomasFire illnesses. Our home is safe, we are busy cleaning up post-fire, and our Christmas tree is up.  Time to enjoy a glass of wine like this festive Dashaway Chardonnay from Flora Springs (details here plus other festive wines from Napa).

Cheers!

Merry Christmas from Art Predator and family!

Stay tuned for more stories from the #ThomasFire! And remember to plant that poinsettia for the monarch butterflies!

 

 

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