Publication Date December 11, 2017

Larger Than San Diego, Southern California Wildfire Now One of Five Biggest in State History

United States
A wildfire burns off of the hills next to CA-126 highway, just northwest of Fillmore, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Thousands of homes remain threatened by at least four major Southern California wildfires that have destroyed structures and sent residents fleeing. Photo: Amanda Lee Myers, AP

A massive, deadly wildfire still burning in Ventura County, California, is now one of the five largest in state history, officials said.

Named the Thomas Fire, the blaze driven by Santa Ana winds has claimed more than 359 square miles – an area larger than the city of San Diego – since it was sparked last Monday evening, according to Cal Fire. The inferno is responsible for one death and has destroyed nearly 800 structures.

As of Sunday night, the fire was just 10 percent contained, down from 15 percent earlier in the weekend. More than 88,000 people have been forced to flee the largest December wildfire in state history, and some 18,000 structures remain threatened.


After touring Ventura County neighborhoods Saturday, California Gov. Jerry Brown called wildfires in winter "the new normal," according to the Associated Press.

"This is the new normal, and this could be something that happens every year or every few years – it happens, to some degree. It's just more intense, more widespread, and we're about ready to have firefighting at Christmas," Brown said.

Five of the state's 20 largest wildfires have occurred since October, according to Cal Fire.