Dec. 12 (UPI) — Six major wildfires continue to destroy thousands of acres across Southern California — and the cost of fighting them is running into the tens of millions.
The largest, the Thomas Fire, is at nearly 232,000 acres, officials said late Monday — and it now ranks as the fifth largest in California history. The blaze started in Ventura County a week ago and has burned its way to Santa Barbara County.
Officials said containment was at about 20 percent Monday night.
Costs of fighting all six major fires have risen to nearly $40 million, officials said. More than 9,500 firefighters from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington state are working the flames, with 7,000 of those on the Thomas Fire alone.
In addition to the 1,000-plus structures destroyed, hundreds of homes have been torched, almost 100,000 people have been evacuated, 85,000 have been left without power and damages total about $10 billion.
Rich Macklin, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman, said the massive blaze is exhausting fire crews, with “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of men and women with packs on their backs, squirting the hills, putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.”
Rough terrain has also complicated matters, officials said, as it’s made getting crews on the ground to attack the front lines of the fire difficult.