The Thomas Fire in Southern California has raged for nearly two weeks, and on Saturday new evacuation orders were issued in Santa Barbara County as a local zoo made preparations to move some of its animals out of the danger zone.
The wildfire, which has burned 259,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 structures, is considered the third-largest in state history. Officials said about 18,000 homes and other buildings are threatened by the blaze, which is only 40 percent contained.
“Though the Santa Ana winds died down a bit overnight, the National Weather Service is forecasting winds will pick up this weekend,” Jeanine Herbst reports for NPR’s Newscast unit.
The winds are driving the fire toward wealthy communities in the coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles, member station KPCC reported.
One of those communities, Montecito, is home to Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities and it is among the areas in Santa Barbara County that were ordered evacuated on Saturday.
As the fire approached Saturday morning, Montecito resident Darren Ceasar was preparing to flee his home.
“Look at how many firefighting assets they have. I know what they’re doing. I trust that they can do everything they can to protect the structures,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “But it’s the wind. Nobody can fight the wind.”