As of Friday morning around 9:00AM PST, the Thomas fire is fully contained and should no longer pose a threat to new areas said the United States Forest Service. The cause of the blaze is not yet known as fire authorities continue to investigate. The quick spreading of the fire was due to incredibly strong winds and dehydrated foliage from a fall and winter that lacked humidity.
The Thomas Fire began on Monday, December 4th alongside a series of other wildfires in South West California. In total, all new wildfires this winter were able to scorch over 300,000 acres of land and destroy well over 1,000 structures including homes and businesses. The Thomas Fire alone was responsible for the destruction of 1,063 structures, and the damaging 280 more. Final Cal Fire statistics claim the total area of the Thomas Fire topped out at a record breaking 281,620 acres.
The last statistic to be released on the cost of the Thomas Fire claimed that 177 million dollars had been spent only 20 days into the effort to contain the wildfire. 2017 was the most costly year for the United States in fighting wildfires racking up a bill higher than 10 billion dollars in total. It has since been over another 20 days with crews still working effortlessly to keep it’s spreading at bay.
Thankfully even as the largest California wildfire in United States history, the Thomas Fire is far from the most destructive with the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego claiming almost 3 times as many building structures, and killing 15. The Cedar Fire falls behind the Thomas Fire by only about 8,000 acres.
To make matters worse however, the destruction caused by the vast wildfires in the region have now contributed to mudslides claiming the lives of 17 people already. Lack of live vegetation in the area makes it hard for the land to hold water, which makes mudslides of land movement much more probable. The mudslides have also destroy multiple homes since they’ve begun.