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‘It’s a beast’: California winds fuel state’s third-largest wildfire

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Strong winds that have powered the third-largest wildfire in California’s history were expected on Sunday to further fuel a blaze that has burned 267,500 acres.

Nearly 8,500 firefighters are battling the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California, which began Dec. 4 and has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more, including homes in the wealthy town of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara.

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While the winds were expected to ease on Sunday near Santa Barbara, northeast wind gusts up to 55 mph were forecast through Sunday for parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, National Weather Service forecasters said.

The blaze, centered less than 100 miles (160 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, has forced evacuations that turned neighborhoods into ghost towns and filled the air with smoke.

The fire is now 40 percent contained despite hot Santa Ana winds that have powered its expansion, at times sending embers far ahead of its main flank.

Firefighters were employing more than 970 fire engines and 34 helicopters to battle the blaze.

“It is a beast,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson told a news conference on Saturday. “But we will kill it.”

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Five of 20 most destructive fires in recorded history ravaged the state in 2017, according to Cal Fire.

The Thomas fire, the seventh-most destructive in state history, forced many schools to close for days, shut roads and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. It was also responsible for poor air quality throughout Southern California.

On Saturday, evacuation orders were issued for parts of Santa Barbara County as high winds whipped the fire through bone-dry terrain.

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In Montecito on Saturday, smoke billowing from nearby canyons and pushed by the high winds choked the air, hindering aircraft from dropping flame retardant, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said. An evacuation order for the city of Ventura was lifted on Saturday morning.

Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, died on Thursday while battling the flames near the Ventura County community of Fillmore. The blaze’s first fatality, he died of smoke inhalation and burns, the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s office said.

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(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


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Crazed ‘MAGA mom’ interrupts MSNBC live shot to rant about impeachment ‘coup’

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MSNBC's Garrett Haake struggled to maintain his focus after a Trump supporter interrupted his live shot from the U.S. Capitol to report on the impeachment process.

Shortly after the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment, Texas realtor Trisha Hope -- who peddles books compiling President Donald Trump's tweets -- set off with her cell phone and recorded herself pestering lawmakers and reporters in the Capitol corridors.

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‘Mafia in action’: Experts concerned by Giuliani and son walking into White House during impeachment vote

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Legal experts are perplexed and expressing concern on the news Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly is under criminal investigation, walked into the White House just as the Judiciary Committee was passing Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump.

CNN's Jim Sciutto and others posted this photo around 10:30 AM Friday morning:

Trump has been emboldened, not chastened, by impeachment. His personal attorney is at the WH right now after his trip to Ukraine to continue to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the heart of this impeachment itself. And GOP is no longer lodging any protest. This is the reality for 2020. pic.twitter.com/Qhfs1CyJjD

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The View urges Dems to go after Ivanka: ‘The Democrats need to get tough’

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On Friday's "The View," a discussion on the attack Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) launched at former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter for getting his Ukraine job because of who his dad was at the time, turned to Ivanka Trump who has been cashing in while working in the White House.

With co-host Ana Navarro mentioning that Gaetz -- who attacked the younger Biden for his substance abuse problem while disregarding his own problems after being pulled over for a DUI which was dismissed on technical grounds -- was the son of a prominent Florida politician, co-host Joy Behar delivered some blunt talk about Hunter Biden and the first daughter.

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