The Latest: Firefighter working huge California fire dies





LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

Authorities have identified a firefighter killed while battling a blaze that's destroyed hundreds of homes northwest of Los Angeles.

State fire chief Ken Pimlott says Cory Iverson was an engineer based in San Diego. His death was announced Thursday but no details are being released.

Iverson was 32. He leaves a pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter.

Iverson had been with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection since 2009.

Dozens of police and fire vehicles escorted his body to the coroner's office in Ventura County.

It's the second death blamed on the so-called Thomas fire, which has ravaged Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for more than a week.

Authorities say a 70-year-old Santa Paula woman died from smoke inhalation and injuries from a car crash last week as she apparently tried to evacuate.

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12:38 p.m.

A firefighter assigned to the huge wildfire burning in Southern California has died.

The fatality was announced Thursday afternoon by Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, but he gave no indication of the circumstances.

Pimlott says the firefighter was a Cal Fire engineer from a San Diego unit. The firefighter's name has not been released.

More than 8,000 firefighters are working on what is now the fourth-largest wildfire in California history, covering 379 square miles (982 square kilometers), in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

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9:35 a.m.

The cost of battling Southern California's huge wildfire is nearing $75 million.

Thursday's tally of suppression costs for the so-called Thomas fire comes from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The 11-day-old wildfire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties is now the fourth-largest in California history, scorching 379 square miles (982 square kilometers).

More than 8,000 firefighters and 27 helicopters are assigned to the fire, which has destroyed more than 900 homes and other structures.

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7:15 a.m.

The colossal wildfire burning northwest of Los Angeles is now the fourth largest in California history and authorities say it will likely keep growing as increasing winds fan the flames.

State officials said Thursday that the so-called Thomas fire straddling coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties now covers 379 square miles (982 square kilometers). That surpasses a blaze that burned inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago.

Some evacuations have been lifted, but authorities say seaside towns including Montecito and Carpinteria remain under threat. The fire is 30 percent contained after destroying 970 structures.

The National Weather Service says extreme fire danger conditions from dry Santa Ana winds could last through the weekend.

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5:30 a.m.

Fire officials hope to lift some evacuations for Southern California's huge wildfire but warn that predicted Santa Ana winds could once again mean danger for communities.

The blaze northwest of Los Angeles is about a third contained and authorities say the risk to the inland agricultural city of Fillmore is diminishing. But coastal enclaves to the west remain under threat Thursday as crews protect hillside homes in Montecito and Carpinteria.

The National Weather Service says extreme fire danger conditions could last through the weekend due to lack of moisture along with a likely increase in wind speeds.

Since the blaze broke out Dec. 4, it has burned more than 372 square miles (965 square kilometers) and destroyed 921 buildings - including at least 700 homes.

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12:30 a.m.

Fire lines have been established around nearly a third of one of the largest wildfires in California history, but danger remains.

Coastal communities in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were warned Wednesday that they're still at risk if unpredictable winds whip up again and fan the flames.

The National Weather Service extended warnings through Friday of extreme fire danger conditions throughout much of Southern California due to lack of moisture along with a possible increase in wind gust speeds at the end of the week.

To the south in San Diego County, firefighters had come very close to containing another major wildfire. That blaze killed 46 race horses at a training center, and left one of their trainers with serious burns.

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