Firefighter dies battling Thomas Fire

A firefighter from San Diego died while battling the nearly 250,000 acre fire that is scorching Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, Cal Fire announced on Thursday.

Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, is the only firefighter to have died while battling the blaze that is now the fourth largest fire in modern California history. The cause and exact circumstances of his death have not yet been disclosed.

As of Thursday evening, the Thomas Fire has burned a total of 249,500 acres and is 35 percent contained. The blaze is still burning in both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

In Santa Barbara County, the fire is continuing to threaten the cities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and surrounding areas. Several mandatory evacuations remain in effect in both counties.

The Thomas Fire has destroyed 974 structures, including 730 single family homes. Another 258 structures have been damaged, and the fire is still threatening approximately 18,000 structures.

A total of 8,316 fire personnel are battling the blaze.

The blaze ignited on Dec. 4 north of Santa Paula near highways 150 and 126. Santa Ana conditions have fueled the fire, pushing it into Santa Barbara County.

More Santa Ana winds are expected through the weekend. Cal Fire does not expect to achieve full containment until Jan. 7.