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Ceres joins area strike team to huge Ventura County fire
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Ceres firefighters joined part of a strike team from Stanislaus County to assist in fighting wildfires that are blackening acres and destroying homes in Ventura County. - photo by Courtesy of Facebook

A strike team from Ceres Fire was dispatched last week to help fight the Thomas Fire burning in Ventura County.

The Ceres team joined up with crews from Modesto, Hughson, Burbank Paradise and Keyes fire departments on Dec. 5. On Thursday the Ceres crew posted on its Facebook page that crews are currently operating on a 24-hour operational period assigned to Branch II Division Victor as part of a structure protection group. "Fire activity was high throughout the night due to high winds. No injuries are being reported and crew moral is high."

On Tuesday the group reported no injuries and high moral as they moved to Santa Barbara to help with fire suppression.

The fire is now classified as the fifth largest in recent California history and has consumed over 234,200 acres. Estimated to be at only 20 percent contained as of yesterday, the fire was heading toward Santa Barbara.

The fire has claimed 794 structures while damaging 187 and threatening another 18,000 structures.

"It is a pretty significant fire," commented Ceres City Manager Toby Wells on Monday. "It is likely forecast to get worse before it gets better."

The fire began Dec. 4 and grew about 2,500 acres overnight as gusting winds pushed the flames down the slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains and closer to upscale homes in Montecito