California wildfire fight aided by better weather after two weeks

Thousands of tired firefighters, battling a deadly two-week-old California wildfire that ranks as the third-largest in state history, welcomed a second straight day of favourable weather on Monday that allowed a more aggressive attack on the flames.

The fire churning through brush in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has burned more than 1,000 structures, including at least 750 homes.

"Dinner for new friends at our house", the "Code Black" actor wrote Sunday on Instagram, captioning a photo of firefighters filling their plates with cheeseburgers, spaghetti and more in what looks to be Lowe's kitchen.

Fire spokesman Capt. Rick Crawford said cooler temperatures, slightly higher humidity and light winds forecast for Monday and Tuesday will be "critical" for firefighters hoping to make progress against the Thomas Fire, the AP reported Monday.

The Thomas Fire is 45 percent contained.

But state fire Deputy Chief Mark Brown says before the fire is fully contained, the blaze will nearly certainly become the biggest in state history.

Fire officials lifted several evacuation orders and warnings Monday, including some areas in the city of Santa Barbara, but Sheriff Bill Brown said there are still about 16,000 people affected by mandatory evacuation orders, and another 10,300 people living in voluntary evacuation warning areas.

As of Monday, the blaze had burned 271,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and remained the third largest fire in the state's history.

However, the next test for the firefighting strategy is just around the corner, with a Fire Weather Watch in effect Wednesday evening through Thursday morning for the South Coast and mountain areas.

The cause remains under investigation.

CalFire has put the estimated cost of fighting the blaze at almost $131 million.

  • Rogelio Becker