As the record-breaking Thomas fire roars through California, the town of Carpinteria is the latest to feel the heat of the flames. Residents are scrambling to evacuate and get out of the way of one of the largest-ever California wildfires after it broke through from ravaged Ventura County to California’s populous Santa Barbara County overnight Saturday.
The L.A. Times reported that the fire, which was burning over an enormous area of 170,000 acres, was out-of-control as it headed for Carpinteria. Residents were ordered to evacuate the pretty, popular California beach town, and the nearby community of Montecito also came under evacuation orders.
The Thomas fire, which the Huffington Post wrote is now one of the largest California fires in history and the only one of that list to occur in December, gained strength from hot Santa Ana winds of up to 35 miles-an-hour and ongoing low humidity. The dryness is expected to continue as the fire rages its way through California’s wealthy beach communities.
As the fire closes in on the newly-threatened towns and communities, residents are taking to Twitter to ask for help while those far away tweet commiserations. One terrified Carpinteria homeowner tweeted that they were surrounded by fire except for the Pacific Ocean.
Another reported that the fire was heading back down the hills into Carpinteria and Montecito, and the smoke was too thick for air tankers to be able to drop fire retardant on the area.
Charles Essinger is the spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and he explained the problem that firefighters are facing as they struggle to contain the fire.
“The thing that is troublesome is that next week we’re supposed to have a dry spell and elevated temperatures. There’s no rain expected in the next seven days,” he told USA Today.
The Thomas fire is the “granddaddy” of all the fires scorching California in this late fire season and is estimated to have already cost $25 million. Its flames have destroyed 754 structures and threaten at least 15,000 additional buildings.
The fire grew by 20,000 acres on Saturday night and is only 15% contained despite the best efforts of 4,500 firefighters battling the flames.
According to TMZ, Ellen DeGeneres is among those whose homes are threatened by the fire. DeGeneres, the star of Ellen, tweeted that she evacuated her beloved pets from the $18.6 million California home that she purchased in October.
One person tweeted that her family was allowed to return to their home after the Carpinteria fire passed by her neighborhood, but she doesn’t “think the air quality is safe.” She added, “No electricity or internet. Need help.”
Brian McClintic tweeted that the fire is ripping through Toro Canyon, posing a heavy threat to both Montecito and Carpinteria.
Those with family in the area are tweeting replies to people on the ground in a desperate attempt to find out if their loved ones are safe.
Many Twitter users are using the social media platform to reach out with gratitude to firefighters in the midst of the battle. Even while people are sick with worry over their friends, family, and homes, they want the front line workers to know they are appreciated.