More than 8,000 firefighters make California wildfire response biggest in history


More than 8,000 firefighters are battling the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County, according to California fire officials.

That astonishing amount of personnel makes it the largest wildfire response operation in California history, according to a report Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, which noted that firefighting efforts to fight the monster blaze now in its third week had so far cost more than $130 million. 

The fire has burned 271,000 acres, making it the third largest in the state’s history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Officials expect the blaze will become the largest fire in the state’s history before it’s put out, which Cal Fire hopes will be in early January. 

The Thomas Fire was 50 percent contained on Monday, a day which officials said brought favorable weather conditions for their efforts.

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Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County
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Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County
CARPINTERIA, CA - DECEMBER 12: A smoke-filled sky filter orange light around surfers as the Thomas Fire continues to grow and threaten communities from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara on December 12, 2017 in Carpinteria, California. The Thomas Fire has spread across 365 miles so far and destroyed about 800 structures since it began on December 5 in Ojai, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - DECEMBER 12: Firefighters watch flames as the Thomas Fire approaches homes on December 12, 2017 in Montecito, California. The Thomas Fire has spread across 365 miles so far and destroyed about 800 structures since it began on December 5 in Ojai, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - DECEMBER 12: The glow of approaching flames is seen at the gates of an expensive home as the Thomas Fire continues to grow on December 12, 2017 in Montecito, California. The Thomas Fire has spread across 365 miles so far and destroyed about 800 structures since it began on December 5 in Ojai, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
CARPINTERIA, CA - DECEMBER 12: A smoke-filled sky filters sunlight to orange around shorebirds as the Thomas Fire continues to grow and threaten communities from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara on December 12, 2017 in Carpinteria, California. The Thomas Fire has spread across 365 miles so far and destroyed about 800 structures since it began on December 5 in Ojai, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - The charred remains of vehicles at a home in the Toro Canyon hillsides north of Santa Barbara, California on December 12, 2017. Crews battling wildfires ravaging southern California for a week have managed to slow the spread of the worst of the blazes, officials said Tuesday, as residents were taking stock of the catastrophic damage. The biggest 'Thomas' fire has charred nearly 95,000 hectares (234,000 acres) of land and is only 20 percent contained, according to the state agency Calfire. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - DECEMBER 12: The Thomas Fire approaches a home on December 12, 2017 in Montecito, California. The Thomas Fire has spread across 365 miles so far and destroyed about 800 structures since it began on December 5 in Ojai, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA, THOMAS WILDFIRE - DECEMBER 12, 2017: This is a DigitalGlobe infra-red satellite imagery of the Thomas wildfire east of Santa Barbara, California. The red indicates unburnt vegitation. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)
Smoke from the Thomas Fire is seen from Santa Paula, California as it rises over Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, December 12, 2017. The Thomas Fire, the fifth largest in California history, has burned through 236,000 acres and is 25 percent contained, according to Calfire. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - DECEMBER 12: A whirlwind of embers is seen as the Thomas Fire approaches homes on December 12, 2017 in Montecito, California. The Thomas Fire has spread across 365 miles so far and destroyed about 800 structures since it began on December 5 in Ojai, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Thomas wildfire burns above Bella Vista Drive near Romero Canyon in this social media photo by Santa Barbara County Fire Department in Montecito, California, U.S. December 12, 2017. Courtesy Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Thomas wildfire burns above Bella Vista Drive near Romero Canyon in this social media photo by Santa Barbara County Fire Department in Montecito, California, U.S. December 12, 2017. Courtesy Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A fishing boat departs the harbor as wildfire smoke darkens the sunrise on the Pacific Ocean during the Thomas fire in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Santa Barbara County firefighters clean equipment and look at maps before fighting wildfires during the Thomas fire in Carpinteria, California, U.S. December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Stearns Wharf stands as wildfire smoke darkens the sunrise during the Thomas fire in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
People stand on a roof of a home illuminated with Christmas lights to watch wildfire on a hillside burn during the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara county near Carpinteria, California, U.S. December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
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“We’ve had a very productive day,” Deputy Chief Mark Brown of Cal Fire told The Associated Press. “The weather conditions were just right for us.”

But changing wind conditions have periodically refueled the long-running blaze. 

The inferno has thus far claimed the life of 32-year-old Cal Fire engineer Corey Iverson of San Diego, as well as Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, who was killed in a car crash while evacuating from her home.



The state has been up against the wall covering the demanding financial and physical costs of fighting the blaze. Firefighters have been working grueling three-week shifts, and expect to be working through the holidays, the Times reported.

With climate change bringing less precipitation and hotter weather to California, Gov. Jerry Brown fears this year’s horrific fire season could become the “new normal” for the state. More than twice as many acres burned in the state this year as they did in 2016 ― with some 6,982 fires burning over 500,000 acres from Jan. 1 to Dec. 10 this year.

“We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods,” and cost “billions and billions of dollars,” Brown said at a news conference earlier this month. “This is very odd and unusual. But it is the way the world is with the kind of carbon pollution that we’re not only living with but that we’re generating still.”

Brown attributes California’s hellish series of wildfires to climate change. He lashed Donald Trump in an interview on “60 Minutes” for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, which the president said was “bad” for America. “That’s a preposterous idea,” Brown said.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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