Thomas Fire now third-most destructive in state history

The Thomas Fire is more than 270,000 acres and has destroyed nearly 800 homes

The largest, the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County, burned about 427 square miles.

Taking advantage of light winds over the weekend, crews reached 50 percent containment Monday in their fight against the Thomas fire, which enabled officials to lift many evacuation orders and partially reopen Highway 154. "The weather conditions were just right for us".

There are now 8,452 personnel battling the blaze, which is expected to be contained by January 7.

The National Weather Service forecasts moderate to strong sundowner winds during that period, with winds ranging from 15 to 30 miles per hour and gusts up to 60 miles per hour, along with low relative humidity. The firestorm destroyed them.

"We've had a very productive day", said Deputy Chief Mark Brown of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protections.

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In the coming days, the focus will remain on protecting Santa Barbara, Montecito and Summerland, where threats still remain.

The increase in evacuations on Saturday drove thousands more people out of their homes as fire officials anxious about the wind-fueled fire's march west in the hills above Montecito.

Michael and Sonia Behrman told KABC-TV they fled their hillside home when heavy smoke blew in and returned to find it in ashes.

"Dinner for new friends at our house", the "Code Black" actor wrote Sunday on Instagram, captioning a photo of firefighters filling their plates with cheeseburgers, spaghetti and more in what looks to be Lowe's kitchen. For all the fires raging thru my community and beyond.

"We have had complete disruption from our normal routines", she said. The devastating fire, which broke out Dec.4, threatens homes northwest of Los Angeles in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

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