Thomas Fire Battle Continues in Santa Barbara, Montecito As Twitter Reacts

Gene Blevins  ReutersHeavy fire from the Thomas Fire burns around power line towers in Coyote Canyon near Montecito Calif. Dec. 16 2017

The largest fire on the list is the 2003 Cedar fire, which burned more than 273,000 acres and killed 15 people.

"It's moving faster than what we can possibly do to contain the fire", said Joe Rosa, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

It's rare for a fire to last this long, threatening homes for three straight weeks. That means the fire will continue to threaten Santa Barbara, Montecito and Summerland.

About 7 a.m. Sunday, strong north winds increased the fire behavior "significantly" in the Santa Barbara zone of the fire, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Winds are expected to calm down Monday and Tuesday to 10 to 20 miles per hour, which will "look tranquil" compared with the weekend gusts, said Kathy Hoxsie, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Like many residents, Frescas was caught off guard by the fire. The procession began in Ventura and passed through Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties before arriving at at a funeral home in San Diego.

The northeastern Ventura County community of Fillmore was also still under threat from the eastern flank of the blaze.

Firefighters smothered portions of the Santa Barbara hills with hundreds of thousands of gallons of fire retardant in an attempt to keep embers from igniting spot fires, officials said.

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The fire is so massive that more than 8,400 firefighters are working around the clock to save lives and contain it. So far, firefighting costs have surpassed $100 million. Johnson said. "That's the wrong question to ask. The question to ask is, how many did we save today?"

Lucy Doheny has spent 13 days at a Santa Barbara waterfront motel after evacuating her home in the foothills above Carpinteria.

"Everything's holding really well", fire information officer Lisa Cox said. "Thousands of homes have been saved". Another 18,000 buildings are still in jeopardy, including mansions in the wealthy enclave of Montecito.

Mourners stood on freeway overpasses to pay respects to firefighter Cory Iverson, 32, who died December 14 of burns and smoke inhalation.

"When the fire started we had just tons of cancellations and I was thinking about just closing the doors because we only had one or two rooms rented", said Eagle Inn General Manager Paul Bullock, "then the evacuees started coming in so that enabled us to help them and also stay open".

Iverson, from Escondido, leaves behind his pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter.

On Saturday, residents from the Cottage Oaks long-term care facility in Santa Barbara were evacuated to a long-term care facility in San Luis Obispo, according to a news release from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department. He told KABC-TV that at the height of the inferno, when it appeared his house would be lost, firefighters risked their own safety to retrieve his belongings.

Information for this article was contributed by Melissa Etehad and Ruben Vives of Tribune News Service; and by Chris Weber of The Associated Press.

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