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Thomas Fire now 155,000 acres, 15% contained

Charlie Guese

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Thousands of firefighters face a tough battle as the Thomas Fire continues to burn in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

The Ventura County Fire Department said that the Thomas Fire has burned 155,000 acres as of 7 p.m. Saturday. 710 structures have been destroyed and 15,000 remain threatened. On Saturday, flames carried into Santa Barbara County, burning sections of the Los Padres National Forest. Public access to the forest has been closed off.

"The area that we had the most activity is in the northern part of the Los Padres National Forest, and we do continue to get a push on the north north west direction," said Public Information Officer Israel Pinzon.

Forecasts show 20-30 mph sustained winds Saturday night into Sunday morning in the fire zone with gusts up to 50 mph.

"This is a very cavernous area with different valleys and different, natural wind phenomena that occur during different times of the day," said Public Information Officer Brice Bennett. "It's anybody's bet which direction the fire is going."

Many residents are still evacuated from their homes. Click here for evacuation information from Cal Fire.

Santa Barbara City College will remain closed Sunday and Monday. Administrators plan to resume classes on Tuesday. At Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, where the fire reached the campus' perimeter, students will be able to collect personal belongings Sunday. Final exams have been canceled.

All schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District and the Goleta Union School District will be closed on Monday. The Carpinteria Unified School District is closed until Wednesday.

Amtrak said service will resume on the Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner trains Sunday. Trains will not stop in Santa Barbara as the station remains closed. Amtrak will not provide alternate transportation for passengers to and from Santa Barbara.

Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties along with other counties for other wildfires.

"We're facing a new reality in the state where fires threaten people's lives, their property, their neighborhoods, and of course, billions of billions of dollars," Brown said as he toured destroyed neighborhoods in Ventura. "We have to have the resources to combat the fires, and we have to also invest in managing vegetation and forests."

The Thomas Fire is the largest single wildfire in the State of California this year in terms of total acreage.