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California fires now burning over 350 square miles

Staff Writer |
The Thomas Fire, the largest of the blazes burning across Southern California, is now more than 350 square miles and firefighters are still struggling to get it under control.

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Officials said the fire, in Santa Barbara County, has so far burned more 230,000 acres as it moves westward. It has destroyed about 800 structures, damaged 200 and threatens another 18,000.

Authorities say the Thomas Fire has forced nearly 100,000 evacuations or sheltering of residents. Nearly 6,000 firefighting personnel are engaged with the blaze, which continues spreading, Cal Fire said late Sunday adding that 762 fire engines, 30 helicopters, 60 bulldozers and 41 water tenders have been pressed into service.

Schools in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties remain closed and several districts ended their semesters until the new year. UC Santa Barbara announced that the university will postpone final exams until next year.

Utility Southern California Edison reported that up to 85,000 customers in Santa Barbara County are without power due to the flames.

Officials said the fire, which began a week ago, grew by 50,000 acres Sunday and was aided by 35 mph winds and low humidity, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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