It’s happy days for Happy Canyon. Residents there, including those who live in the Santa Ynez Valley’s Sedgwick Ranch, Tunnel Ranch, and Rancho de Los Vistadores, are being told that there’s little danger that the Zaca Fire will hit them. The long-standing evacuation warning for that area was lifted at 6 p.m. Wednesday night, and the residents can once again breathe in relative peace.
Elsewhere on the Zaca Fire, things appear to be looking happy as well. While the nightly briefing doesn’t happen until later this evening, there’s been some serious progress yesterday and today, according to a spokesperson with the Forest Service’s Zaca Fire Info Line information.
The northern sundowner winds - which were predicted to fan the flames and push the blaze up through the Santa Ynez River and up over East Camino Cielo toward the foothills of Montecito and Santa Barbara - have yet to materialize. Instead, the wind continues to come from the southwest, pushing the Zaca Fire deeper into the wilderness areas and away from the coast.
The spokesperson also explained that the maps on Inciweb are now showing many black lines around the southern and southwestern edge of the fire. These black lines indicate that the firefighters have built substantial fire lines to hopefully stop the red-hot, month-old blaze in its tracks. (The red lines seen elsewhere indicate that there are no fire lines.)
The fire commanders usually don’t let crews get in the paths of fires, but since the winds were relatively calm the past two days, the firefighters were allowed to build these lines, which should serve to protect Santa Barbara and Montecito. Additionally, there was a large amount of fire retardant dropped on the southwestern edge of the fire, and that has served to cool the fire a lot in those areas.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see a lot more work done there after today’s shift,” said the spokesperson, indicating that there seems to be enough of a buffer between the blaze and the coastal communities to satisfy the firefighting crews.
The next couple days will prove crucial. If the sundowners - which are warm winds from the north that could push the fire toward the coast - don’t come, then the only thing burning will be the isolated, rugged, and pristine backcountry of the Los Padres National Forest. If the winds do kick up, however, then the South Coast’s collective anxiety will surely rise.