Thousands flee wildfire ‘beast’

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defense/Crystal Housman/CC0
defense/Crystal Housman/CC0

VENTURA (Reuters) – A raging California wildfire powered by fierce winds grew into the third-largest in state history on Saturday as forced evacuations turned neighbourhoods into ghost towns and ash fell in some areas like heavy snow. The Thomas Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more since erupting on December 4. “It is a beast,”

Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson said.  “But we will kill it.” Nearly 8,500 personnel using nearly 1,000 engines and 32 helicopters were battling the blaze, which was 40 percent contained yesterday.

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