Thomas Fire, once largest in California history, is now 100% contained

MONTECITO, CA - DECEMBER 16: A strong wind blows embers at the Thomas Fire on December 16, 2017 in Montecito, California. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings of dangerous fire weather in Southern California for the duration of the weekend. Prior to the weekend, Los Angeles and Ventura counties had 12 consecutive days of red flag fire warnings, the longest sustained period of fire weather warnings on record. The Thomas Fire is currently the fourth largest California fire since records began in 1932, growing to 400 square miles and destroying more than 1,000 structures since it began on December 4. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Thomas Fire is the largest blaze in CA history
00:26 - Source: CNN

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Thomas Fire burned area more than the size of Dallas and Miami combined

The wildfire also contributed to this week's deadly mudslides in Southern California

CNN  — 

After more than a month of destruction, the largest fire in California’s modern history is now 100% contained, according to the US Forest Service.

The Thomas Fire ignited on December 4 and has burned about 281,900 acres since then, sending wide swaths of Southern California up in flames. That size is the equivalent of more than Dallas and Miami combined.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. However it started, the fire was fueled by strong Santa Ana winds and by the overall lack of precipitation this fall and winter, turning the brush, tall grass and chaparral in the area into fuels, according to the Forest Service.

In all, the Thomas Fire destroyed 1,063 structures and damaged another 280, according to the Forest Service. Mandatory evacuation orders were in place for parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Cory Iverson, a 32-year-old firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, died last month while battling the Thomas Fire.

At one point, more than 2,800 firefighters were working to contain the fire. About $177 million was spent fighting the fire as of December 24, according to Cal Fire.

“Los Padres National Forest would like to thank all the first responders and cooperators that responded to this incident over the last month and giving up the opportunity to spend the holidays with their families and the sacrifices they made,” the Forest Service said in a statement Friday.

“We would also like to thank the local and surrounding communities for their understanding and support during this time.”

The Thomas Fire put a cap on what was the costliest year for wildfires in US history, with $10 billion in damage.

The wildfire’s devastation also contributed to this week’s mudslides in the Montecito area that killed 17 people and destroyed dozens of homes.

Usually, vegetation helps absorb the rain as it hits the ground. But because the Thomas Fire consumed so much brush and shrubs across the region, the circumstances were ripe for mudslides.

“All these hills normally have a protective cover of chaparral,” said Tom Fayram, Santa Barbara’s deputy director of public works. “That’s all gone. Almost 100% gone.”