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Danger remains as fire breaks restrict huge California wildfire

World News | Published:

Coastal areas have been warned they are still under threat from the state’s fifth-largest blaze.

Firefighters at work as wildfires blaze in Santa Barbara county, California (Mike Eliason/AP)

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

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

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

Firefighters made some progress on Wednesday on corralling the so-called Thomas Fire, which has spread into national forest land north west of Los Angeles.

However, they warned that the fire would continue to spread west as it eats up parched brush.

By Wednesday evening, state fire officials said the blaze was 30% contained but continued to threaten Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito, a wealthy area home to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey.

Since the blaze broke out on December 4, it has burned more than 372 square miles and destroyed 921 buildings, including at least 700 homes.

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It threatens 18,000 buildings and has prompted evacuations of about 100,000 people.

It is the fifth-largest wildfire in Californian history.

To the south in San Diego County, firefighters are close to containing another major wildfire a week after it broke out.

That fire burned down 157 structures, most in its destructive first hours.

It also killed 46 racehorses at a training centre, and left one of their trainers with serious burns.

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