Weekly wrap-up: Raging Thomas Fire kills firefighter; Snowstorms plague northeastern US

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather staff writer
December 16, 2017, 9:57:35 AM EST

The Thomas Fire in Southern California continued to rage this week and grew to be one of the largest wildfires in the state's history.

As of Saturday, Dec. 16, the fire’s acreage had soared to 259,000 acres, putting it third on the list of the top 20 largest California wildfires. The cost of the fire has exceeded $96 million.

The fire has destroyed over 1,000 structures and is responsible for the death of a 70-year-old woman, who was found dead after her car crashed along an evacuation route near Santa Paula.

thomas fire 12/11/2017

A motorists on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A firefighter from the San Diego Unit was killed while battling the Thomas Fire, according to Cal Fire.

"More details will be made available as they are confirmed," Chief Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire, said in a statement about the firefighter fatality. "In the meantime, please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved one[s] in your prayers [and] all the responders on the front line in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions."

The Thomas Fire underwent explosive growth when it charred 30,000 acres from Dec. 4 into the morning of Dec. 5. That rapid spread was due to the fiercest Santa Ana wind event of the season. Additional rounds of gusty wind have led to challenging conditions for combating the blaze.

Parts of the northeastern U.S. experienced their first major snowfall of the season on Saturday and Sunday. Snow blanketed New York City, creating picturesque holiday scenes. Nearly 5 inches of snow fell in Central Park.

However, the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills created scenes out of a movie, as whiteout conditions enveloped the stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Bills football Dec 10

The Buffalo Bills warm-up in near white-out conditions before an NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

An Alberta clipper brought more wintry weather to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic on Thursday, creating travel chaos for some.

Snow was blamed for numerous car accidents and delays in places like Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A blanket of snow covered the region, with a foot of snow falling in southwestern Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

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The U.K. was hit by snow over the weekend, causing travel delays and and power outages.

Snow fell from the Midlands to Wales and as far south as London. One of the highest snow totals was recorded in Sennybridge, Wales, where 32 cm (12.5 inches) was measured.

Residents in San Bernadino, California, were shocked when a chunk of ice tore through their roof and ended up in their bedroom, according to the Associated Press.

The couple said the ice the size of a motor engine. A Federal Aviation Administration officer said it could have fallen from a passenger airliner.

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