California’s largest fire, the so-called Thomas Fire, continued its scorched expansion Saturday, fueled by winds at extreme levels. The blaze jumped 10 miles west of Mulholland and has scorched 27,500 acres in Ventura County, forcing evacuations in Lomita and Simi Valley. By Saturday afternoon, it had jumped more than 40 miles to 72,300 acres and was 20 percent contained. In an effort to control it, helicopters dropped fire retardant while firefighters mop up on nearby forests, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. “Scaling back a fire in progress is a marathon, not a sprint,” agency spokesman Cal Fire Deputy Chief Bill Miller said. At an extended briefing at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, officials were worried about wet grass and gusty winds that could cause them to slide on top of structures. When asked why firefighters were going so quickly, Miller said the goal was to keep the flames away from homes. They were also able to return some firefighters to their homes. Fire officials say lightning and dry conditions caused the blaze to ignite Saturday in the Del Norte and Santa Monica mountains. The fire was an inside-the-forest branch from the one about 15 miles away that began Friday. That fire quickly moved out of control Saturday and spread into the Los Padres National Forest, where it burned 32 acres, Cal Fire said.

California’s largest fire, the so-called Thomas Fire, continued its scorched expansion Saturday, fueled by winds at extreme levels.

The blaze jumped 10 miles west of Mulholland and has scorched 27,500 acres in Ventura County, forcing evacuations in Lomita and Simi Valley.

By Saturday afternoon, it had jumped more than 40 miles to 72,300 acres and was 20 percent contained.

In an effort to control it, helicopters dropped fire retardant while firefighters mop up on nearby forests, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

“Scaling back a fire in progress is a marathon, not a sprint,” agency spokesman Cal Fire Deputy Chief Bill Miller said.

At an extended briefing at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, officials were worried about wet grass and gusty winds that could cause them to slide on top of structures.

When asked why firefighters were going so quickly, Miller said the goal was to keep the flames away from homes. They were also able to return some firefighters to their homes.

Fire officials say lightning and dry conditions caused the blaze to ignite Saturday in the Del Norte and Santa Monica mountains. The fire was an inside-the-forest branch from the one about 15 miles away that began Friday. That fire quickly moved out of control Saturday and spread into the Los Padres National Forest, where it burned 32 acres, Cal Fire said.

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