SANTA BARBARA -- The massive wildfire burning northwest of Los Angeles became the fourth largest in California history, and authorities said it would likely keep growing and threatening communities as hot, gusty winds fanned the flames.
State officials said Thursday that the so-called Thomas Fire straddling coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties covered 242,500 acres (379 square miles). That surpassed a blaze that burned inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago. Officials said the blaze is 30 percent contained.
Cal Fire now confirms that one of its firefighters has died battling the Thomas Fire on Thursday morning.
The announcement came after reports of a “serious accident” that occurred as firefighters worked to contain the blaze on the outskirts of the town of Fillmore.