Ash from what is now California’s fifth largest fire ever falls over the area like snow and sometimes travels with smoke clouds thick enough to choke residents caught without masks.
The Thomas Fire, driven by high winds and fueled by dry brush and timber, has consumed about 360 square miles of land and razed more than 1,000 buildings. Its forced tens of thousands of evacuations and thousands more have fled their homes before any official order was given, The Associated Press reports.
Officials are distributing masks to residents in Montecito, an exclusive California community boasting residents such as Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bridges.
“There’s so much ash it’s unbelievable,” Jeannine’s American Bakery, located in Montecito, Manager Richard Sanchez told the AP. “Everything is white. The streets are covered, cars are covered, our parking lot is covered.”
The Thomas fire has been nearly uncontrollable since it started a week ago. Sever winds, sometimes as high as 70 miles per hour, have blown the disaster larger and larger.
The fire grew by 50,000 acres Sunday to become the state’s fifth largest. Firefighters were still struggling to get control of the blaze Monday as 30 to 35 mile per hour winds swept through southern California, ABC News reports.
The fire Monday was around 15 percent contained, according to CNN.
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