California wildfire becomes state's third largest in history
© Getty Images

A wildfire burning in Southern California became the third largest in the state's history, according to data from the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The so-called Thomas Fire on Saturday grew to affect 259,000 acres, Reuters reported, surpassing the California Rim Fire that burned 257,314 acres in 2013.

The Thomas Fire is only about 40 percent contained, according to authorities, and threatens at least 18,000 structures. About 1,000 structures, including 750 homes, have been destroyed since the wildfire broke out 12 days ago.


“Each fire has a unique circumstance,” fire protection department spokesman Gabe Lauderdale told reporters on Saturday. “This one has impacted a lot of communities. The sheer size of the fire is what’s unique about it.”

More than 8,000 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which on Saturday triggered the evacuation of an additional 12,000 people, according to CNN. About 94,000 people had already evacuated by Friday.

Two deaths have been reported related to the latest wildfire: One firefighter who died fighting the blaze on Thursday, and one woman who died in a car accident last week while escaping.