Thousands of firefighters battling the massive Thomas fire braced for the return of powerful winds Friday that could again endanger communities, even as they mourned the death of a colleague killed on the fire lines.
Ten days after it broke out, the Thomas fire on Thursday became the fourth-largest in the state’s modern history, consuming nearly 250,000 acres and destroying hundreds of homes.
Firefighters have taken advantage of a two-day lull in winds to increase containment to 35%, but the blaze has continued a march north from Ventura and Santa Paula along the coast of Santa Barbara County.
Officials also set some controlled backfires in the hills above Montecito, hoping to burn off brush that would serve as fuel if the Thomas fire got into the area.
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