Thomas Fire grows but crews gain ground, CALFire calls Mondays movement 'Textbook Good'

Crews battle the Thomas Fire on Sunday, December 10, 2017, in southern California. (George Romero/KSNV)

Monday night, people in the Santa Barbara area are watching and waiting as the Thomas Fire creeps closer. The fire is only 20% contained. 644 homes have burned in the blaze. 231,700 acres have charred. But, fire crews are working tirelessly to keep that number from rising.

Nancy Eldrige said deputies came knocking on her door Sunday morning. She packed and left. Now, she can't get back into her home, so she came to take a picture of it. "I feel calmer now that I don't see flames," she told me.

She can't see her home from the corner where she has to stand, but she can see all the crews that are lined along her street waiting to protect these homes that have been here for decades.

"I've lived here 27 years. My father-in-law built the house in 1947," said Nancy.

A few doors down, Carole Bennett and her husband are watching things carefully. "We're going to play it by ear," she said. "You saw all those trucks out there, you have to feel you're in pretty good hands."

She said her top priority was her animals. "The chickens, the bunny, the tortoise and the two dogs and the horse," she said. "We have a small little menagerie here."

Carole says she didn't want to take any chances after what happened in Los Angeles and San Diego last week. "It makes me cry right now," she said tearing up. But, there is still something to smile about she said, "Everybody comes together."

Crews are gaining a hold on this fire and finally, for the first time, the smoke cleared enough on Monday afternoon that air tankers were able to drop fire retardant on the mountainside of these communities.

"It's backing down the hill, this is a very controlled situation," said Brice Bennett with CALFire.

"The firemen are great, this is not the first fire in Santa Barbara. We've been through this many times, just not in this area," Eldrige said.

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