California's Largest Wildfire Extinguished As New Fire Season Begins
GOLETA, Calif. (AP) - Officials declared the largest wildfire in recorded California history officially extinguished Friday, nearly six months after it ignited and later burned hillsides that washed away in deadly mudslides northwest of Los Angeles.
Los Padres National Forest officials made the designation after detecting no hotspots within the perimeter of the Thomas fire for more than two months.
The flames broke out on Dec. 4, 2017, near Thomas Aquinas College and burned more than 440 square miles (1,140 square kilometers) in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Two people were killed, including a state firefighter. The flames destroyed more than 1,000 buildings before they were fully contained on Jan. 12.
A massive downpour on fire-denuded mountains Jan. 9 unleashed massive debris flows that ravaged hundreds of homes in the community of Montecito, killing 21 people and leaving two missing.
The blaze erupted as powerful Santa Ana winds swept the region, causing power outages. The gusts swept the fire out of a semirural area and into neighborhoods.
A spate of lawsuits by victims claim losses from the blaze and the resulting flooding were due to negligence by Southern California Edison.
In response, the utility has said the cause of the fire remains under investigation and the claims don't stem from official findings.
More than half the burned territory was in Los Padres National Forest, where officials said crews were repairing roads, trails and fences damaged by the blaze and fire suppression actions.
Officials are developing a strategic approach for repairing trails damaged by the fire and rainstorms.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.
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