From a brush fire to a raging inferno, the Thomas fire, the state’s third-largest fire, erupted into flames two weeks ago and has spread faster and faster burning over 269,000 acres so far in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. It is currently only 45 percent contained and has destroyed over 1000 structures including 750 homes with the help of Santa Ana winds.
One of the factors causing this tragedy is the wind. Wind speeds can determine the fire spread. The more oxygen there is from the wind, the faster the blaze spreads. An example of a dangerous fire hazard could occur is in a situation where there is a low concentration of oxygen, referred to as a backdraught.
Also, the terrain is very dry and there is a thick brush that has not been burned for decades that is providing the fuel.
“The fuels in there are thick and they’re dead, so they’re very receptive to fire,” said Steve Swindle, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
“Since it’s so dry out there, it doesn’t take much in the way of winds to create those critical fire weather conditions,” said Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’ll see wind gusts in that area between twenty and thirty-five miles per hour, maybe a few mountain sites might see up to about 40, but that’s the most we’re expecting right now.” Munroe means that the winds were very strong to start the fire and the winds from the fire will be about twenty miles per hour.
The Thomas fire has destroyed many lives and is still ripping apart more. Firefighters are working their hardest to slow it, but the damage caused has already caused absolute devastation. We can only hope that people are safe away from the fire.