Special to The Ely Times

The Thomas Fire ignited on Monday, Dec. 4, and ballooned from its initial 50-acre estimate to a monster of a fire that is still burning today.

Just four days later, Engine 4335 with the Bureau of Land Management Department here in Ely, departed for California with a four person crew.

They went to a staging area where they were assigned to the Thomas Fire.

The fire has been labeled as the fifth largest wildfire in California history. The fire expanded on Tuesday, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds.

The Thomas Fire has continued to burn across 234,200 acres, destroying 1,000 structures, burning more than 360 square miles of dry brush and timber, destroying 680 homes and has been burning for more than a week now.  The fire remains at 20 percent containment as of Tuesday evening, Dec. 12.

Tens of thousands of people remain evacuated.  Poor air quality kept dozens of schools closed. Ashes rained down and smoke blew through streets,  Officials said it could take weeks or months to finally contain the fire.