KVTA Local News

Thomas Fire Explodes Into Santa Barbara County

KVTA News Sunday December 10, 2017

(Photo taken from Kimball Park in Ventura by Don DesJardin)

The Thomas Fire moved into Santa Barbara County in a big way Sunday, adding more than 50,000 acres and growing to more than 230,000 acres between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

It's containment also dropped to ten percent from 15%.

The fire burned into the steep terrain north of Carpinteria, dense vegetation that hasn't burned since 1932.

The fire has stayed north of the 192 and it's moved westward above Carpinteria and towards Summerland.

It created huge pyrocumulus cloud that reached 30,000 feet into the sky and could be seen for miles.

It's believed that some structures were lost, but numbers for Santa Barbara County are not available yet.

In Ventura County the fire continues to flare up and grow in small but significant increments.

The latest numbers for structures damaged or destroyed include almost 800 destroyed and almost 200 damaged, almost two thirds of those in the city of Ventura.

Cost of fighting the fire through Sunday is $34 million.

Fighters could use some help from the weather, but none is in sight.

Thomas Fire 173,000 Acres Burning Above Carpinteria

KVTA News Sunday December 10, 2017

(Photos of Thomas Fire above Carpinteria Sunday morning by Mike Eliason Santa Barbara County Fire)

The nearly week ago Thomas Fire grew to 173,000 acres by Sunday morning with the focus now on the hills and canyons above Carpinteria Summerland and Montecito in Santa Barbara County.

The massive blaze that entered Santa Barbara County Saturday at Divide Peak continue down through the steep mountains and brush-clogged canyons north of Carpinteria, burning through vegetation that had not burned since 1932.

At least one house was destroyed by the flames while several others were threatened.

Evacuations were issued for the areas north of the 192 and west of the Santa Barbara/Ventura County line but the fire stayed north of the city of Carpinteria, moving west along the mountains and canyons north of the city.

For the latest on the fire in Santa Barbara County go to:

The fire also continued to burn back into the Los Padres National Forest and on the other flanks around the Ojai Valley, Ventura Avenue and Fillmore sides of the fire.

But the hot spots that broke out in those areas were managed.

For more information on the Ventura County portion of the fire go to:

Thomas Fire 155,000 Acres And 15% Contained

KVTA News Saturday December 9, 2017

Update at 6:45 PM Saturday--The Thomas Fire has grown to 155,000 acres and 15% contained.

4400 personnel on the fire. Cost of fighting the fire so far is $25 million. In city of Ventura 460 structures destroyed,107 damaged.

Elsewhere 146 structures destroyed with 37 damaged.

Most significant development today, and of concern, is that the fire finally entered Santa Barbara County at Divide Peak behind Carpinteria.

They are stationed in Carpinteria should the fire make it that fire but they don't think it will.

They fire burned from Rose Valley, across Highway 33 north of the Ojai Valley, through Matilija Canyon and to Divide Peak where it is now.

They issued an evacuation order for the Rancho Matilija area which is north of Baldwin Road (Highway 150) and west of the Ventura River.

They said firefighting efforts in all other areas of the fire have been going well.

Right now the main concern is that flank of the fire that's burned through the Los Padres National Forest north of the Ojai Valley, west to the Santa Barbara County line above Carpinteria. For official information on evacuation notices, road closures and other information please go to:

Update at 6:30 PM Saturday--residents of Carpinteria & Summerland will see smoke & fire activity from the Thomas Incident now through the morning, & the fire will seem closer than it actually is during the night. Stay alert to changing conditions. For more info, go to:

Thomas Fire At 148,000 Acres, 15% Contained

KVTA News Saturday December 9, 2017

Update at 7:51 AM Saturday---Ventura County Fire says the cost so far to battle the 148,000 acre Thomas Fire is $17 million. Containment is now 15%.

One death is being attributed to the fire. The Medical Examiner says 70-year-old Virginia Pesola of Santa Paula died after her car crashed in Wheeler Canyon and she was killed from injuries sustained in the crash and also from smoke inhalation and burn injuries She was apparently fleeing the area when this happened and was found Wednesday night.

More than 500 structures have been damaged or destroyed, mostly homes and most in the city of Ventura.

Evacuation orders have been lifted in some areas but remain in others. To get info on that go to

They say the fire is transitioning now from a wind driven fire to a topography driven fire.

It's also becoming a fire that's now primarily most active in the Los Padres National Forest although there are still active areas outside the forest.

The three most significant road closures remain Highway 33 north of the Ojai Valley in the forest, Highway 150 through the Casitas Pass from east of Lake Casitas to Carpinteria and the 150 from north of Santa Paula through the Upper Ojai.

There is a map below showing areas of containment and those areas where the fire is still not contained.

Some Evacuation Orders Lifted, Fire 143,000 Acres

Santa Paula Woman's Death Tied To Thomas

KVTA News Friday December 8, 2017

(Photo courtesy Los Padres National Park USFS)

The Ventura County Medical Examiner confirmed today that the 132,000 acre Thomas Fire claimed at least one life.

70-year-old Virginia Pesola of Santa Paula was found dead Wednesday in her burned out car on Wheeler Canyon Road.

The Medical Examiner said she died from a combination of blunt force injuries because of the crash and also smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.

Her death is under investigation by the CHP and Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit.

Meanwhile, the Thomas Fire has grown to more than 143,000 acres with 10% containment.

It displaced almost 88,000 people but evacuation orders for many of them have been lifted (see section in bold face type) and the fire damaged or destroyed more than 500 structures, most single family homes and most in the city of Ventura.

Friday was a day firefighters used to attack the fire extensively from the air with water dropping helicopters and air tankers, including a 747 and DC 10 dropping fire retardant.

Crews on the ground continued to work on containment lines and deal with hot spots.

Some Mandatory and Voluntary Evacuation orders have been lifted with some exceptions.

Evacuations orders for portions of the Ojai Valley have been lifted.

This area includes all of Creek Road, all areas within the city limits, all areas in Meiners Oaks from Rice Road east, and all unincorporated areas east of the city limits to Reeves Road. The following areas remain under evacuation: Highway 33 North of Fairview Drive, Highway 150 east of Reeves Road, and unincorporated areas west of Rice Road. Please exercise caution while driving in the area. For detailed information visit or call the incident hotline at 805-654-2551.

City of Ventura:

All mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been lifted in the City of Ventura with the exception, North of Poli and Foothill Rd in the City of Ventura.

City of Santa Paula:

All mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted in the City of Santa Paula, for the areas North of SR-126 from the West end of the City of Santa Paula East to Willard Rd and North to Bridge Rd.

Unincorporated Areas Between Ventura and Santa Paula:

All mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted North of Foothill Rd. from the City of Santa Paula to Kimball Road in the City of Ventura.

Meanwhile, residents wishing to go into those east Ventura hillside neighborhood still under Mandatory Evacuation Orders must show up Saturday between 9 AM and 4 PM at Temple Beth Torah at Foothill and Kimball roads with proof of residency.

Meanwhile, there will be a community meeting in Ventura for those impacted by the fire.

It will be at noon Saturday at Buena High School.

Northeast winds are expected to return on the weekend but they will not be as strong as the winds during the past week.

Thomas Fire Grows To 115,000 Acres

KVTA News Thursday December 7, 2017

(Photo by Robert Molina of Thomas east of Santa Paula)

The destructive Thomas Fire that broke out Monday night near Santa Paula has grown to more than 115,000 acres.

Fire officials say in the city of Ventura alone, the fire destroyed 427 structures and damaged 85 others while in the unincorporated areas it destroyed a dozen structures.

And those numbers will probably go up once a more detailed assessment is made.

The fire continues to grow out of control but officials seemed optimistic about their progress in dealing with the blaze despite hurricane level winds and extremely dry humidity.

They say in Ventura where the fire did the most damage they've made very good progress and even in the other areas, like along the county's north coast and around the Ojai Valley and Los Padres National Forest, efforts to protect life and property have been successful.

The fire has made more moves towards Fillmore prompting evacuations again in the unincorporated areas west of the city but officials believe they can stop the fire from getting to the city.

The blaze is only five percent contained and the estimate of full containment is still weeks away.

Long Night Battling 96,000 Acre Thomas Fire

KVTA News Thursday December 7, 2017

(Top photo by Sara Kabel looking west at Fillmore with fire beyond)

(Bottom photo by Billy Roper showing the 101 in Seacliff Wednesday night)

Update at 8 AM--Both the NB and SB 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has been reopened.  The 33 from Ventura to Ojai is open but the 33 into the Los Padres National Forest is closed.  Highway 150 closed between Lake Casitas and Carpinteria and also between Santa Paula through the Upper Ojai.  Ventura Councilman Matt Lavere told KVTA News that between 350-400 homes were destroyed by the 96,000 acre Thomas Fire mainly on the first 24 hours of the fire.  Other homes around Santa Paula, Upper Ojai, Ojai Valley and La Conchita also lost during the past 24 hours. 


Update at 3 AM---101 Freeway closed in both directions between Ventura and Carpinteria

Update at 12:55 AM from sheriff--Effective immediately the following areas are under Mandatory Evacuations: West of Hwy 33, North of West El Roblar Dr. 

Update at 12:25 AM--Fire needs power lines turned off along 33 north of Meiners Oaks, they're on fire. Also CHP started the traffic break NB 101 just north of Ventura to slow traffic. Not sure if they will close the 101. Smoke over freeway and people stopping to take pictures of the fire.

Update at 11:40 PM from the Sheriff's Department--Latest Evacuations

Effective immediately the following areas are under Mandatory Evacuations:

• The following areas east of the city of Santa Paula and north of Hwy 126

o Timber Canyon Rd @ Hwy 126

o Toland Rd @ Hwy 126

o Hall Rd @ Hwy 126

• All areas within the City of Ojai east of Hwy 33 and north of Hwy 150 with

the exception of Ojai Valley Community Hospital and the evacuation

center at Nordhoff High School

o Ojai Valley Community Hospital – Shelter in Place

o Nordhoff High School – Shelter in Place

Update at 10:55 PM from the city of Fillmore--May have noticed an increase in fire tonight versus last night this has generated a number of calls. Fire still west of Toland Road. Don’t anticipate fire moving very far east of Toland overnight. We will cont to update as conditions change.

Update--Mandatory evacuation Matilija Canyon

Update at 10:25 PM--Evacuation of everything north of Grand Ave in Ojai and east of Mercer. Also evacuations along Highway 33 north of Friends Ranch in Meiners Oaks. Highway 33 is closed at La Luna to traffic heading north into the city of Ojai. Ojai Valley Hospital has been evacuated.

Update at 10:10 PM--Highest wind report from Boney Mountain in the Santa Monica Mountains(Ventura County) East sustained 66 mph gusting to 85 mph. Taken at 9:52 PM PST.

Update at 10 PM--arcing in the 16 KV Edison lines near the Toland Road Landfill east of Santa Paula.

Update at 9:55 PM--Mandatory evacuations from Sespe Creeks west to Toland Road, that's the unincorporated area west of Fillmore and north of the 126.

Update at 9:45 PM---Highway 33 heading north into the Los Padres National Forest from the Ojai Valley is closed. So is Highway 33 at Villanova Road in Ojai. The firs had crossed Highway 33 in the forest just north of Meiners Oaks and has burned about two acres moving towards Matilija Canyon.

Update at 9:35 PM--fire on both sides of the 101 northwest of Ventura and fire on both sides of Highway 33 in the Los Padres just as you leave the Ojai Valley to head into the forest. Also...voluntary evacuations for East of Bailard Avenue to the Ventura County Line

Update at 9:20 PM--concern about securing the electrical facility at Toland Road Landfill so it does not get damaged if fire moves through. Also they're getting a night flying copter otherwise they have no air support.

Upedate at 8:30 PM Additional evacuations- Ventura County North Coast Area - Boundary of Hwy 33 on the north to Casitas Vista Road, northwest to Hwy 150, Hwy 150 (Casitas Pass Road) west to US 101 and south on US 101 (including Pacific Coast Highway) to Emma Wood State Beach

The Thomas Fire has grown to 90,000 acres and is only 5% contained.

It is now threatening the northeast corner of the Ojai Valley around Gridley Road and also burning in a southeast direction east of Santa Paula.

The other hot spots are the beach communities northwest of Ventura, the Casitas Vista and Casitas Pass areas.

Highway 150 is closed on the west end between Lake Casitas and Carpinteria and on the east end between Santa Paula through the Upper Ojai. 

For official information:

Firefighters Facing A Long Night With Thomas

KVTA News Wednesday December 6, 2017

(Bottom photo courtesy NASA)

The weather forecast is disheartening, even frightening, as firefighters and Ventura County residents face at least one and possibly two more nights of fierce northeast winds that promise to extend the nightmare of the 90,000 acre wildfire known as Thomas.

Since the blaze broke out amid 60-70 mph Santa Ana winds Monday night, it has marched through portions of Santa Paula, Ventura, Ojai and the north coast of Ventura County.

Scores of homes, apartments and businesses have been destroyed, tens of thousands of people displaced and everyone choking on acrid smoke.

The fire is still a threat to every area it has burned, but the latest hot spots are the Red Mountain area and the communities that surround it like the Ojai Valley, the beach communities of Solimar Beach, Faria Beach and La Conchita and areas like Casitas Vista, Casitas Springs, Casitas Pass and Lake Casitas.

And now weather forecasters say that for the next two nights we can expect northeast winds as bad or worse than the weather Monday night that helped create the monster.

Highway 150 has been closed at both its east and west ends: from north of Santa Paula through the Upper Ojai and from Lake Casitas to Carpinteria.

The 101 and 33 are open as of 6 PM Wednesday night, but that could change.

Meanwhile, those displaced by the flames wait with friends or in shelters, hoping to return home, and in some cases, hoping that when they do, they still have a home.

For official fire information are road closures, school closures, evacuations and evacuation centers go to: 

Thomas Fire Grows To 90,000 Acres

KVTA News Tuesday December 5, 2017

The 90,000 acre Thomas Fire reached the ocean north of Ventura late Tuesday night.

The fire, which broke out Monday night northeast of Santa Paula, jumped Highway 33 near Casitas Springs Tuesday afternoon and then burned over Red Mountain through an area burned by the Solimar Fire almost two years ago.

It then burned over the 101 Freeway to the beach.

While that was happening, the fire also burned through a portion of Casitas Springs to Oak View.

The Thomas Fire also continued to burn down into areas north of the 126 in east Ventura.

Yet another flank of the fire burned southwest of Santa Paula.

Officially,, the fire has destroyed 150 structures including many homes and two large apartment complexes in Ventura.

But that figure is expected to rise as 12,000 structures are threatened.

More than 27,000 people have been evacuated because of the Thomas Fire

Some 1776 firefighters are battling the fire.

The fire is zero percent contained and the major Santa Ana wind event that helped create this monster fire is expected to continue into Friday. 

For the latest on road and school closures and evacuation centers go to

150 Structures Destroyed By 50,000 acre Thomas Fire

KVTA News Monday December 4, 2017

(Top photo courtesy Ventura County Air Unit)

(Bottom photo courtesy Gabriela Ramirez)

Updated--The Hawaiin Village Apartments and one of three buildings that make up the  Harbor View Apartments on Kalorama were destroyed by the Thomas Fire. The fire also destroyed the Vista Del Mar Hospital in the Avenue area of Ventura.

50,000 acres burned, 150 structures destroyed and almost 8.000 dwelling units from Santa Paula to the Upper Ojai to Ventura have been evacuated with 27,000 people displaced by the fire. Evacuation centers set up at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura and Nordhoff High in Ojai

More than 500 firefighters from all over the region have responded.

KVTA News Monday December 4, 2017

Ventura police are seeking public help in identifying the suspect who robbed a 74-year-old man last month at a bank ATM machine across from the Pacific View Mall.

The crime took place shortly before 10 PM on November 21st at the ATM outside Wells Fargo Bank at 270 Mills Road.

Police say the suspect, while motioning toward his waistband as if he had a gun, told the victim to hand over $300 of he would harm him.

The victim complied and the suspect took the money and fled the scene.

Suspect Details: Age: 20-25 years old, Race: Black; HGT: 5’8-5’11; WGT: 140-150lbs; Facial Hair: Thin mustache or goatee; 

Clothing: Grey hoodie w/“SENIORS 16” and black wings

If you have any information or questions, please contact Det. Buck at 805-339-4462.

Weather Raises Wildfire Concern In Ventura County

KVTA News Monday December 4, 2017

Firefighters in Ventura County will be on alert this week over what the National Weather Service is calling the strongest and longest Santa Ana wind event of the season.

It will last for the next four days and will feature northeast winds gusting between 40-60 miles per hour with 80 mph gusts in the mountains.

In addition, vegetation is tinder dry and there will be extreme low humidity.

All this combines to raise concern that if a wildfire breaks out, it could be very difficult to stop.

The fire department is on special staffing this week with extra people on call or on duty and special patrols in high fire danger areas.

They're also asking the public's help and some suggestions are listed above.

Woman Robbed At Ventura Bank ATM

KVTA News Monday December 4, 2017

A woman was robbed Sunday night as she used an ATM machine outside a bank in Ventura.

Police say it happened shortly after 9 PM outside the Wells Fargo Bank on Telephone Road west of Victoria AVenue.

They say the woman was withdrawing money from the ATM when a man came up, pushed her out of the way and grabbed the cash as it was being dispensed by the machine.

Police say the suspect took the money and the woman's wallet and fled north from the bank.

They searched the area with a K-9 but did not find the suspect.

Police described him as a Hispanic male in his 20's, thin, wearing a dark colored hoodie and black pants.

Ventura Restaurant Robber Stopped

KVTA News Monday December 4, 2017

A man who tried to rob a fast food restaurant in Ventura Sunday night got more than he bargained for.

Ventura police say around 9:50 PM a man wearing a black hooide, black gloves and a bandana over his face entered the Jack in the Box on Thompson Boulevard east of Seaward Avenue and grabbed the cash register off the counter.

The suspect then fled but the employees chased him. stopped him and scuffled with the suspect until he dropped the cash register and started to flee again.

The employees caught up to him again and detained him until police arrived.

Police say they arrested 24-year-old Jesse Rivera of Ventura for robbery.

Oxnard Men Arrested For Store Thefts

KVTA News Monday December 4, 2017

Deputies say two Oxnard men were arrested Sunday for allegedly stealing high end power tools and other items from several stores.

They say around 3:30 PM the pair fled the Newbury Park Home Depot on Teller Road with more than a thousand dollars worth of power tools.

Someone was able to get a description and license plate number of their vehicle and the authorities put out an attempt to locate broadcast.

Oxnard police spotted the vehicle, stopped it and took the two men into custody.

Deputies say inside the vehicle was not only the merchandise taken from the Home Depot but also merchandise stolen from a number of other stores.

Taken into custody, 29-year-old Jose Flores and 23-year-old Brian Guerrero, both of Oxnard.

They were booked into the Ventura County Jail for Grand Theft, conspiracy and possession of stolen property.


   heavy rain falling across the warned area. Flash flooding is
   expected to begin shortly if not already occuring. Flash flooding,
   mud, and debris flows are likely below the Solimar and Camarillo
   Springs burn areas. 
 * Some locations that will experience flooding include...
   Solimar Burn Area...
   Springs Burn Area...
   Santa Paula...
   La Conchita...
   and Highway 33 between Wheeler Springs and Rose Valley Road.
 Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood
 deaths occur in vehicles.
 Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small
 creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as
 well as other drainage areas and low lying spots.
 Please report flooding to your local law enforcement agency when you
 can do so safely.
 A Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring.
 If you are in the warned area move to higher ground immediately.
 Residents living along streams and creeks should take immediate
 precautions to protect life and property.
 A Flash Flood Warning for a recent burn area means that flooding and
 debris flows are imminent or occurring. Residents living in or
 immediately below the burn area should take immediate precautions 
 to protect life and property. Quickly move away from the burn area 
 only if it is safe to do so, otherwise shelter in place and move 
 to a second storyor the highest location in your home to stay out 
 of the path of fast-moving water and debris flows.