Massive California wildfire half contained

Calm winds help California fire crews make progress

Calm winds help California fire crews make progress

Cal Fire pointed to the well-off city of Montecito as its area of greatest concern, after the fire on Saturday rained ash on the dry hills and million-dollar mansions of the area.

The monster of a wildfire burning in Southern California is now the second-largest blaze in the history of the state - since accurate records were kept starting in 1932.

But state fire Deputy Chief Mark Brown says before the fire is fully contained, the blaze will nearly certainly become the biggest in state history. It's destroyed at least 750 homes and burned about 425 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

A wildfire that's burned hundreds of homes in coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles is now the second-largest blaze in California history. As of Tuesday, 432 people were still staying at evacuation shelters run by the Red Cross, agency spokeswoman Georgia Duncan said.

The fire has already destroyed at least 272,000 acres (110,000 hectares) - almost the size of the city of Los Angeles - and is just 55 percent contained since it began December 4, according to the state's fire authority Cal Fire.

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Higher humidity combined with diminished winds and temperatures to ease the firefighters' job since Sunday.

More than 1,000 homes and other buildings have gone up in flames and some 18,000 other structures are still threatened.

"We're going to take a lot of that fuel out of there", fire Captain Rick Crawford said. That blaze, the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego, killed 15 people.

The unrelenting Thomas Fire began December 4 in Santa Paula and has since spread through Ventura County and into Santa Barbara County.

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