Firefighters close in on full containment for 3 Southern California fires

Firefighters close in on full containment for 3 Southern California fires

Firefighters close in on full containment for 3 Southern California fires

San Diego-based Cory Iverson was assigned to the blaze northwest of Los Angeles, which has become the fourth largest in California history.

The 32-year-old state fire engineer was killed Thursday at the so-called Thomas fire in Ventura County.

The so-called Thomas Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures, including about 750 homes, in coastal communities in Southern California since erupting on December 4, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement.

The procession leaves around 10 a.m. from the Ventura County Medical Examiner's office and will travel southbound on Highway 10.

It was the second death linked to the fire.

That blaze also was blamed for the death last week of a 70-year-old woman who died in a auto crash on an evacuation route. Most of the residents of her apartment complex have evacuated. As of Saturday afternoon it was about 30 acres, Norman said.

Pimlott did not provide any details about Iverson's death but said it was under investigation by an accident review team.

Santa Barbara County issued new evacuation orders as the fire bore down on Montecito and other communities.

Pimlott said he was "deeply saddened" by Iverson's death but added that fire crews were continuing to focus on their mission.

It has cost $97 million to fight the 256,000-acre (103,600-hectare) blaze, with thousands of firefighters contending with it around the clock and helicopters and airplanes being used to drop retardant on the flames.

The hot Santa Ana winds that have helped the fire grow, at times sending embers far ahead of its main flank, were forecast to remain strong through Saturday evening in the Santa Barbara County mountains, the National Weather Service warned.

Some evacuations were lifted and the risk to the agricultural city of Fillmore was diminishing. But coastal enclaves to the west remained under threat as crews protected hillside homes in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

With the district largely deserted, fire trucks moved without sirens and were stationed at every home in a bid to save them, an AFP photographer said.

Taking advantage of a lull in winds in last Wednesday to Friday, firefighters cleared contained areas along the westernmost edge of the giant blaze to stop the wildfire from approaching communities at foothills, Tony Pighetti, a captain of the Santa Barbara fire department. Containment was estimated at 35 percent.

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