Update: Santa Barbara Wildfire, “it is Very Hot and will get Hotter”
The wildfire in Santa Barbara County, California has burned thousands of acres and prompted the declaration of a local emergency as firefighters continue into the weekend facing extremely difficult conditions.
More than 1,200 personnel were responding to the wild fire, which has been burning since it started near Refugio Road, west of Goleta, California Wednesday.
The wildfire has scorched over 4,000 acres and was only about 5% contained, officials stated at a late morning news conference Friday. About 270 homes and building are threatened.
A water treatment plant that serves El Capitan State Beach burned down overnight, a California State Parks superintendent said. Camping reservations were being canceled, he said.
Smoke from the wildfire is impacting air quality in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, regional air regulators warned, and a haze is seen across the area from the San Gabriel Mountains.
A declaration of local emergency was made by the county just after 10:00a Friday, said Supervisor Doreen Farr, who represents the area that is burning.
Agriculture and natural resources have been damaged. Another official said avocados, olives, lemons and cattle-grazing lands were damaged.
This wildfire comes as California continues into its 5th year of drought and enters what may be record heat at this weekend.
“It is ominous. We are concerned because the fuels out there are drought-stressed. There’s a lot of tree mortality out there that makes the fire’s behavior worse,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department Chief Eric Peterson said. “The drought is making an already pretty volatile situation not any better.”
County Sheriff Bill Brown warned residents to heed mandatory evacuation orders and to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice in areas where evacuation warnings are in effect.
“This is still a very dynamic fire situation and we do not want residents … to be complacent,” Chief Brown said. “Even though conditions may appear to have become better during the day, the reality is things can change … very rapidly in the evening. We do not want our residents to have a false sense of security.”
Officials estimated the fire, is expected to be contained sometime in the afternoon of Wednesday, 22 June, the federal InciWeb page for the wildfire stated Friday morning. That statement was wrong and removed from the government’s official site.
Information about the wildfire, which is being referred to as both the Scherpa Fireand Sherpa Fire, is available on the county’s website.
Gusty “Sundowner” winds continued to fan the flames, pushing them down the mountain toward the coast, during the overnight hours. The winds once again forced the closure of the 101 Freeway through the region Thursday night.
Officials were able to reopen the Freeway about 4:00a Friday.
The heat wave expected this weekend, may see temperatures will rise into the 90’s and humidity will drop, and Sundowners are expected to again pick up again about 5:00p Saturday, National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Eric Boldt said.
Fire restrictions are now in effect in Los Padres National Forest.
Mandatory evacuations are in place for areas of Refugio Canyon, Las Flores, Venadito, El Capitan Campground, El Capitan Canyon, El Capitan Ranch and Refugio Campground. About 400 persons received emergency evacuation notifications, Sheriff Brown said.
An evacuation warning was issue from El Capitan Canyon to Farren Road.
An evacuation center was set up at the Wake Center, located at 300 North Turnpike Road in Goleta, and Santa Ynez Union High School, according to the InciWeb page. Large animals can be taken to the Earl Warren Show Grounds.
The fire was being managed by the US Forest Service, Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Cal Fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
If you live in Arizona, California or Nevada, watch out for temperatures as high as 120F in the next few days.
For more information: https://www.countyofsb.org/
Remember, when traveling in fire zones and danger areal take extreme care, lives and property are at stake.