Acreage and Containment: This fire has burned 1,800 acres and is 40 percent contained.
Evacuations and Road Closures: Evacuations and road closures remain in effect for the west portion of Montecito and portions of Santa Barbara. Incident Command Team 10 and Law Enforcement are working on a plan toallow residents affected by the fire back into their respective property.
Fire Progression: Fire progression is projected to move to the west towards Mission Canyon Road in the Santa Barbara area; and an eastward spread towards Hot Springs Road in the Montecito area that has been affected by the fire. The south end of the fire is holding but crews will remain in the area. The north end of the fire, which extends into the Los Padres National Forrest, has open line and will be a focus for the next operational period.
Structures Destroyed and Property Damaged: The fire has destroyed 111 homes, and damaged 9 residential structures. 1500 residents remain threatened.
Personnel and Apparatus: 2,235 firefighters and overhead personnel are assigned to this incident under unified command.
There are 9 helicopters assigned to the fire, no fixed wing aircraft, hundreds of engines and multiple strike teams assigned to the Tea Incident.
Three civilians have been injured and were transported to regional burn centers. There are no confirmed reports of injuries to any firefighting personnel.
Estimated Cost to Date: $3,500,000
Due to the firefighting activities in the area, water reservoirs have dropped to critically low levels. We strongly encourage ALL residents in the Montecito and Santa Barbara communities to limit their use of water during this emergency to allow the most efficient use of water for firefighting tactics.
Note: As I write this update, several major wildfires are hitting Southern California, in areas including Sylmar, Palos Verdes, Corona, Yorba Linda and other new fires, some from fire embers blowing downwind and all threatening homes and mobile home parks. Several homes have been destroyed (in the 100's). One of the fires that caused a fatality is being investigated as a crime scene because evidence is pointing toward an intentional set... The below photo is a rare view... The current fires have shut down major interstate highways. The only other time I saw this was during earthquakes when all traffic was diverted because of bridge failures.
I've posted some photos from the fires that started today. These are massive fires taking out hundreds of homes, condos and mobile homes... What's killing us are the winds. Thanks again your for your kind words.
People often ask 'why this house and not the one next door?' Pure luck in many cases, good fire maintenance in others, firefighters managing to protect exposures in others. Ladies and gentlemen, roll your dice...
11-16-08 Update: In the past four days, fires in Southern California have consumed 1.24 million acres and have completely destroyed 800 homes as of 15:00 hours. This number is slowly increasing as the fire(s) continue to grow, combine and get larger. Key note is that DC-10 Tankers that carry 12,000 gallons of fire retardant have been proving to be very successful as fire crews attempt to box in some of these fires.
My department has already reached what we call a draw down state, so now one else will be able to leave the county. We just sent another strike team of engines (5) and a battalion chief down the Freeway Incident. The problem now is that these individual fires have grown large enough to combine into HUGE fires, consuming house after house... We may not have snow, and wonderul sunny weather but we also don't get much rain these days. So much for paradise... We just had Governor Arnold stop by to assess things and meet with folks. I think he even was quoted as saying, "I'll be back...". TCSS, Mike
There is now a new fire in Placerita Canyon which is in the Diamond Bar area. Much of this fire is part of a major burnout operation to provide a means to control part of the fires perimeter. The fire has taken a change for the better as of 17:00 PST.
200 civilians at evacuation centers are waiting for a 19:00 hour briefing to find out how soon they can return to their home to check out damage or retrieve personal items. Ensuring pubic safety and allowing cadaver dogs a chance to walk through each destroyed home takes time.
Firefighters and law enforcement are being rotated in two shifts, daytime and nighttime or 12-hour shifts on and 12-hour shifts off. A continuing coordinated effort between air resources, handcrews, engine companies and dozers are working to combat this weather / fuel / slope driven fire. There are thousands of acres that are prime for burning adjacent the fires boundaries. Humidities continue to be low and temperatures high creating a very dangerous situation for firefighters.
Santa Ana Winds, created by the cooling of the air in the desert, rushes towards the coastlines, down canyons in excess of 50 to 75 mph. This evenings weather includes 40-50 mph steady wind fueling the fires. The Placerita Fire has been directed into an area that has already burned to prove to be a successful backfiring operation The fire is simply going to put itself out when it hits the black...
Contingencies continue to be put into place for the unknown as resources continue to arrive and get dispersed to the various fires. As the fire continue to burns, some of the heavy brush is producing over 50-foot high flame lengths. Helicopters are only flown at night for what is considered "imminent threats" or for use as recon missions to oversee fire behavior and activity.
50 foot flame heights. For those who don't know, a safe working distance at wildfire is four times the height of the flames. Maybe. In 1973 a fire scientist here measured the temperature at 100 metres from the fire front (at a big wildfire) - 530C. Perhaps this will make more sense for some of you - at 109 yards it was 986F.
I put this in for those of you who have not experienced a big wildfire.