UPDATE: Monday, 10.47 p.m. EST — The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California said Thomas Fire now covered 231,700 acres and was 20 percent contained as of Monday evening. Officials added the fire behavior had moderated in the Santa Barbara area, reported KSBY.

Original story

Fires continued to rage in California’s Santa Barbara County and Ventura County on Sunday as fire crews continued to battle the blaze. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the residents of Santa Barbara County as the Thomas Fire scorched more than 200,000 acres or 312 square miles with only 10 percent containment by Sunday evening.

The fire gained over six square miles during Saturday night and Sunday afternoon and burnt over 50,000 acres, according to ABC-affiliate KEYT-TV. The fire was estimated to be the fifth largest wildfire in California’s history after the growth Sunday.

Mandatory evacuation orders were given by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office to the area north of State Route 192/Foothill from Mission Canyon Road all the way to the Santa Barbara and Ventura County line. Voluntary evacuation warnings were in place for areas including the north of State Route 192 from Highway 154 to the Santa Barbara and Ventura County line. An evacuation shelter was established at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Recreational Center. The latest evacuation map for the fires can be found below.

National Public Radio quoted Jonathan Bastian of member station KCRW saying that strong and unpredictable winds posed a challenge to firefighters struggling to contain the fire and added water-dropping planes and helicopters were being used to battle the blaze. He also stated a layer of white ash had descended over the city and its beaches.

UCSB announced Sunday afternoon it was postponing finals week to the week of Jan. 8 and the winter quarter due to the Thomas Fire, the Daily Nexus reported.

Southern California Edison officials said Sunday up to 85,000 customers in Santa Barbara County were without power.

The Santa Barbara Zoo was closed to the public Sunday, and the 500 animals in the premises were confined to their night quarters. The zoo was outside the evacuation area and not in immediate danger, but smoke and ash covered the property.

“We drill for and are prepared for emergencies,” said Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge, in a Facebook post. “We are taking all precautions to ensure the safety of our animals and our staff. The winds are nonexistent here and the forecast is favorable so far. Our thanks go out to the firefighters and first responders on the front lines working to stop the fire that threatens our community.”

Meanwhile, several schools in Ventura County will be closed Monday, the county's Office of Education (VCOE) said Sunday.

The list of schools includes:

Briggs Elementary — Monday and Tuesday

Fillmore Unified — Monday

Mupu Elementary — Monday

Ojai Unified — Monday through Friday

Santa Paula Unified— Monday and Tuesday

VCOE's career education center in Camarillo— Monday and Tuesday

VCOE-operated school sites and classrooms — Monday and Tuesday

Ventura Unified — Monday and Tuesday

The Los Angeles Times reported the blaze destroyed 524 structures and damaged 135 in the city of Ventura. In the unincorporated areas of Ventura County, 266 structures were destroyed, and 56 damaged. The fire consumed six structures Sunday in beach town of Carpinteria, authorities said. In Santa Barbara, 15,000 structures were threatened by the fire that continued to spread.

The cause of the fire, which began Dec. 4, east of Highway 150 near Thomas Aquinas College, is under investigation.