Thomas Fire in California becomes third largest to devastate state in modern times | News | DW | 17.12.2017
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Thomas Fire in California becomes third largest to devastate state in modern times

California's Thomas Fire has continued to rage, displacing tens of thousands of people after scorching over 700 homes. The state governor has linked multiple wildfires this year to climate change.

A furious wildfire that California has been battling for two weeks became the third largest in state history on Saturday, as renewed wind gusts and dry air fueled the spread of the blaze.

The so-called Thomas Fire has burned more than 1,000 structures, including 750 homes since December 4. It has spread across an area of 259,000 acres (104,800 hectares) about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday. The cause of the fire is unknown.

The raging wildfire has cost emergency services more $100 million (€85 million) to battle, and involved about 8,500 firefighters from multiple states, 78 bulldozers and 29 helicopters. One firefighter has died.

Only 40 percent of the Thomas Fire has been contained.

Since the wildfire started, more than 95,000 people have been mandatorily evacuated, including several parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura.

On Saturday authorities ordered the mandatory evacuation of Summerland and Montecito, an elite area where several stars including Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres have mansions.

This year's wildfires have been one of the most destructive to hit California in modern times.

Climate change wake up call

California Governor Jerry Brown said the scale of wildfires hitting the state should be a wake up call for people to respond to climate change.

"The important fact is that these fires are going to become a very frequent occurrence. That's what the science is telling us," Brown said. "It's a real indicator of bad things to come, and hopefully will serve to wake up people who right now are too complacent."

cw/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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