Tougher Utility Rules Being Considered in Wake of California Wildfires


The deadly wildfire that has scorched the U.S. state of California for almost two weeks still raged on Saturday and threatened a wealthy community northwest of Los Angeles, prompting new evacuations in Santa Barbara County.

Thousands of additional residents were evacuated Saturday from areas near the Thomas Fire, now the third-largest wildfire in modern California history.

Red-flag warnings are in effect for a large swathe of Southern California through late Sunday, with wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour expected overnight, according to CNN meteorologist Gene Norman.

Another focus of firefighting was on the eastern flank in canyons where a state firefighter was killed Thursday near the agricultural town of Fillmore.

The Thomas Fire is slowly devouring its way up the list of the state's largest wildfires.

Meanwhile, mandatory evacuations in Ventura County - where the fire began- were lifted Saturday.

Concialdi said, "As of this morning, we're at 259,000 acres and still growing".

From Saturday night through Sunday evening, the winds could lash neighboring Ventura County, the Weather Service said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement Saturday that almost 8,500 workers are fighting the so-called Thomas fire.

Firefighters are mourning the death of one of their own. Fire officials said Iverson, the blaze's first fatality, left behind a pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter.

Her phone kept buzzing with alerts about the fire, she said.

LAFD officials have said four fire engines and two brush patrols - described as smaller, more maneuverable vehicles - are working in the area while an all-volunteer LAFD crew is assisting.

Three major Southern California wildfires - the Lilac, Creek and Skirball fires - are winding down as their containment moves closer to 100 percent. A 70-year-old woman was killed in a auto crash while evacuating as the fire raged last week.

On Saturday, some celebrities expressed appreciation to the firefighters battling the massive blaze. Hundreds of homes are in the fire's path.

Santa Barbara has had only a tiny amount of rain since October 1, the start of the new water year, and is more than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) below normal to date.

Oprah Winfrey, who has a home in Montecito and had tweeted about the fire several days before, added an update. "Winds picked up this morning creating a ideal storm of bad for firefighters".