(ABC News) -- For the past 14 days, the fire that has been turning mountainsides to ash has been growing to become California’s third largest wildfire on record. The fire only needs to consume a couple thousand more acres to dethrone the 2003 Cedar fire that maintains top spot on the list.

So far, the overpowering Thomas fire has claimed two lives, caused more than 104,000 people to flee their homes and destroyed 1,313 structures. More than 8,526 firefighters have put their lives on their line to stop it, running up a cost of roughly $124 million.

Experts say it could be well into January before the fire can be fully contained.

Cal Fire officials confirmed that the containment increased to 45 percent, as of Monday, but that a total of 500 acres more have scorched in the blaze, bringing the total to 270,500 acres burned.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of residents in the wealthy enclaves of Montecito and Santa Barbara were notified they should be ready to evacuate. Many adhered to the warnings. On Monday, the Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management airlifted some of them out.

In the meantime, actor Rob Lowe converted his palatial seaside kitchen into a heartwarming mess hall.

"Dinner for new friends at our house," he posted on his Instagram account.

Almost a dozen brave firefighters grinned in the photo, appearing to help themselves to heaping portions of pasta and burgers.