Largest wildfire on record in California finally contained

Fire burns canyons and ridges above Bella Vista Drive near Romero Canyon as the fight to contain a wildfire continues in Montecito, California (AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Largest wildfire on record in California finally contained

CALIFORNIA: The largest wildfire on record in California was declared contained on Friday, days after mud on the coastal mountain slopes it scorched crashed down on homes during a storm, killing at least 18 people.
The Thomas fire was declared 100 percent surrounded after ravaging Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles for more than a month. A cause has not yet been determined.
Some areas of Los Padres National Forest remain closed to the public until authorities determine it is safe to enter.
The blaze began on Dec. 4 and fierce winds drove the flames through tinder-dry brush, chaparral and trees. The fire blackened 440 square miles (1,140.76 square kilometers) — an area nearly as large as Los Angeles.
Flames whipped through foothill communities and forest wilderness. More than 1,000 buildings, including many homes, were incinerated and thousands of people were forced to flee.
Evacuations were called for Montecito as flames topped ridges above the wealthy enclave that was hit by waves of mud on Tuesday.
Two people were killed in the fire. Cory Iverson, a 32-year-old state firefighter, died of burns and smoke inhalation while working in steep country above Fillmore.
A preliminary state fire report said Iverson was laying hose line near a firebreak cut by bulldozers when he became surrounded by spot fires that exploded around him and cut off his retreat.
Four other members of his team managed to escape.
Some Montecito families had only recently returned home when another evacuation call went out on Monday.
Forecasters warned that the approaching storm could unleash flooding and mudslides because fire-scorched areas had lost vegetation that stabilizes soil.
Cascades of mud, boulders, trees and other debris inundated the community, destroying at least 100 homes.


Trump likely to meet Putin in ‘not-too-distant-future’

Updated 11 min 27 sec ago
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Trump likely to meet Putin in ‘not-too-distant-future’

  • The US National Security Adviser will travel to Moscow next week to explore the idea of a meeting
  • Speculation has been rife in Russian and Western media on the highly anticipated meeting

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is likely to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin “in the not-too-distant future,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a US television interview, after Trump mooted a possible summit.
The White House announced on Thursday that National Security Adviser John Bolton will travel to Moscow next week to explore the idea of a meeting.
“I know Ambassador Bolton’s planning to travel to Moscow on Sunday or Monday. He’ll be meeting with his counterpart, and I think it’s likely that president Trump will be meeting with his counterpart in the not-too-distant future following that meeting,” Pompeo told MSNBC, according to a transcript released Saturday by the State Department.
“I don’t know what the president’s schedule is going to be,” Pompeo said in the Friday interview.
Speculation has been rife in Russian and Western media on the highly anticipated meeting, which they first discussed in March.
Such talks would be scrutinized because of the continuing probe by a US special counsel into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.
Bolton’s visit was announced almost two weeks after Trump said that Russia should be re-admitted to the G7 group of industralized democracies, from which it was suspended for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Trump is due to participate on July 11-12 in the NATO summit in Brussels before heading on to Britain to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II.
Earlier this month, Putin said he was ready to meet his US counterpart as soon as Washington gave its approval, adding that Vienna could be a possible venue for such a summit.
Ties between Washington and Moscow have been strained by the Russia probe and Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The last, brief meeting between Putin and Trump took place in November 2017 in Vietnam during an APEC leaders’ summit.