Jennifer Day volunteers to save a chicken along Rice Road in Ojai, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The Thomas Fire was still burning in upper Ojai.
Juan Carlos, Ventura County (Calif.) Star

VENTURA, Calif. — There’s one thing constant as the ever-growing Thomas Fire enters its fifth day Friday — relentless winds.

Santa Ana winds continued to make the 132,000-acre, or 206.5-square mile, fire more dangerous, spreading flames north of Ojai city limits, past La Conchita and into Santa Barbara County. 

Wind speeds were expected to average 15-30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph, according to forecast information from the National Weather Service. By Friday evening, winds are expected to drop to around 15 mph. However, winds remain in the forecast through Saturday night, along with single-digit relative humidity and above-average temperatures, leading the National Weather Service to extend its red-flag fire warning for the county through Sunday.

The Ventura County, Calif., fire is now 10% contained.

More: California wildfires: What we know about the Creek, Thomas, Lilac and other fires

More: California fires: Why is everything burning?

On Friday, President Trump approved an emergency declaration for California. 

In a statement, the declaration orders “Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from wildfires beginning on December 4, 2017, and continuing.”

The declaration enables the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide assistance “to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown had requested the emergency declaration.

New developments of the fire had authorities concerned most of Thursday, not just because of the expansion but its trajectory into dry fuel beds.

Cal Fire Capt. John Clingingsmith said the Ojai Valley and La Conchita haven’t had a history of fires.

“There’s a lot of dead fuels up there,” said Clingingsmith. “And when we have no fire history, that could be decades worth of dead slash and trees and brush and everything.”

New fire activity continued throughout the county, including in a remote area near Fillmore and Santa Paula that produced big plumes of smoke. By late Thursday, authorities said they were able to get a handle on much of the fire perimeter and make progress on mopping up problem areas.  

Strong winds, which haven’t taken a break since the fire started near Santa Paula on Monday, have limited aircraft deployment as well as the possibility of displaced residents being allowed to return soon.