LOS ANGELES – A firefighter died on Thursday while trying to contain the Thomas fire that has scorched more than 98,000 hectares in Southern California.
Ken Pimlott, chief of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection of California, said in a statement on Thursday that a firefighter from the San Diego unit, whose identity remains unknown, has died while performing his duty.
This marks the second victim killed by the powerful and still active wildfire in southern California after a 70-year-old woman in Ventura died after suffering a car accident while trying to escape the flames.
According to the latest data released Thursday by the authorities, the Thomas fire has razed over 98,000 hectares and firefighters have only been able to contain 30 percent of the fire.
About 1,000 buildings have been destroyed in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by the blaze, which was fanned by the intensity of the Santa Ana winds.
Around 8,000 emergency service officers are currently fighting the flames.
The National Weather Service has maintained a “red flag” alert in the affected area due to high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds, which may cause the fire to spread.
The Thomas fire, which forced the evacuation of over 100,000 people, is one of the five largest wildfires in the history of California.
California was already hit by a huge wildfire in October, which blazed through several counties in northern California, taking the lives of 44 people, as well as devastating nearly 8,900 homes and much of the renowned wine regions of Napa and Sonoma, according to Cal Fire.
According to estimates, the Thomas fire could cost more than $48 million in damage for Southern California, which is home to many citrus crops.
US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for California on Dec. 6, allowing for the sending of federal aid.