Firefighter dies, thousands more join battle against California blaze

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Utah's firefighters battling the Thomas Fire in California would love to be home for Christmas, but that doesn't seem likely at this point.

They had black bands on their badges in honor of Corey Iverson, the Cal Fire engineer who died in an accident while fighting the Thomas fire in Fillmore.

The huge wildfire burning for almost two weeks northwest of Los Angeles continues to grow.

Dozens of police and fire vehicles escorted a hearse carrying Iverson's flag-draped body to the county medical examiner's office in Ventura. He is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and a 2-year-old daughter, as well as his parents and other family.

It was the second death linked to the fire.

One other death has been connected to the Thomas Fire: a woman who was killed in a vehicle crash while evacuating last week. A full list of evacuations and road closures can be found on the County of Santa Barbara and Ventura County websites.

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"The firefight in front of us continues to go on". Tolmachoff said Cal Fire considers her death to be fire-related. "The communities we are protecting are depending on us, and we will not fail".

According to KTLA: "Officials are anticipating that the massive Thomas Fire burning in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties won't reach full containment until January 7 - more than a month after it was sparked, Cal Fire said Friday". Containment was estimated at 35 percent.

Some evacuations were lifted and the risk to the agricultural city of Fillmore was diminishing.

"During heightened fire danger, Cal Fire will place additional firefighters on duty, staff more fire engines and keep more equipment on 24 hours a day to be able to respond to any new fires", the agency said. But coastal enclaves to the west remained under threat as crews protected hillside homes in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

Since it began on December 5, the Thomas Fire has grown into the fourth-largest blaze in state history, endangering thousands of homes and businesses.

Firefighters made some progress Wednesday on corralling the fire, which continued to spread mostly into national forest land.