Ventura Man Loses Everything in Devastating Thomas Fire

Sergio Conner
December 7, 2017

- A woman in her auto was reported as the first official death of the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, the biggest of the wildfires burning in Southern California, authorities said on Thursday.

Dubbed the Rye Fire, the blaze began about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday near the 2500 block of Rye Canyon Loop.

People in the evacuation warning area should prepare to leave immediately if a mandatory evacuation order is issued, the spokesman added.

"Particulate matter from a forest fire, is smaller in size that our normal environmental pollutants, causing these particles to get deeper into the lungs", said Gilbert J. Kuhn Jr., Providence Saint John's Health Center.

In La Conchita, Highway 101 has been closed for 16 miles at State Route 126. The California Highway Patrol reopened the southbound side of the 101 about 6:45 a.m.; patrol vehicles were escorting traffic along the coastal stretch.

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Amtrak said there would be no service Thursday from Santa Barbara to Ventura. Residents had been evacuated the previous day, according to local paper Ventura County Star.

An evacuation shelter was opened at the UCSB Multi Activity Center at 516 Ocean Road.

Santa Barbara City College also closed its campuses Thursday. Air tankers that had been grounded much of the week because of high winds flew on Wednesday, dropping flame retardant.

Raging fires in neighboring communities meant off-duty firefighters came to work in the city, as the Fire Department sent 13 members to nearby wildfires.

But those vicious Santa Ana winds flared up again with a vengeance Wednesday night.

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