Firefighters from BLM Boise District, Payette National Forest in California

Posted at 5:00 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 19:00:10-05

It has scorched more than 282,000 acres since Dec. 4, and officials say the fire should be fully extinguished by early January.

Until then, firefighters from Idaho’s Bureau of Land Management and the Payette National Forest are on the ground, helping in any way they can. 

“Just like in the summer during the fire season, we always want to help support neighboring states, or any states, that need help when they have wildfires going on,” said Jared Jablonski, spokesman for the BLM Boise District.

Two engines and a crew of nine from the Idaho agencies were sent to California for a 14-day mission. 

Despite the recent addition from Idaho, the total number of firefighters assigned to the Thomas Fire is dropping rapidly. Around 700 firefighters are assigned to the area, down from nearly 3,000 during the fire’s peak. 

“We try to send folks whenever we can,” Jablonski said. “t’s just a little more difficult this time of year due to the holidays, obviously, and also because we’re not at our peak staffing levels like we are during our regular fire season.”

Experts say perhaps the most challenging aspect of the Thomas Fire, now in its 23rd day of activity, are the persistent winds.

“With the Santa Ana winds and the El Diablo winds, we’re definitely going to see fires that behave more aggressively and can take a long time to contain and control,” Jablonski said.

And with the Thomas Fire expected to reach full containment sometime early January, Idaho’s crews are planning to return just after the New Year.