Much like the media briefing earlier this afternoon, the evening information-sharing session at Earl Warren Showgrounds for fire crews battling the Gap Fire above Goleta was an upbeat and optimistic affair. With relatively calm winds and strong fire lines holding through much of the southern and eastern perimeters of the fire, the crew heads in attendance were noticeably relaxed during their nightly gathering, clearly a direct result of the tireless work along the fire’s frontlines. As incident commander Bob Bell, of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, told the assembled firefighters this evening, “We’ve had a couple days of real good progress.”
According to information presented at the briefing, tonight’s primary battle zone will be along the western stretches of West Camino Cielo, where back-burning operations will continue while crews hand-cut firebreaks in an attempt to keep the flames from crossing over the road. Also, crews will remain along Old San Marcos Road, where they will work to finish up the already extensive network of fire lines protecting such communities as the Trout Club and Painted Cave and to stamp out any unexpected hot spots that may pop out overnight. That being said, as one fire behaviorist opined about this area, known as “Sector Bravo,” during the meeting, “I don’t think we are going to have any problems in Bravo tonight.”
As for the for the western limits of the blaze, officials reported that a few hot spots had flared up through the afternoon near the back end of Eagle Canyon as well as in between Ellwood and Tecolote canyons. Because of this, precautionary structure protection crews will be on call throughout the night near residences in those canyons. The fire also made some uphill runs in this same area this afternoon, toward rugged stretches of West Camino Cielo near Broadcast Peak. But according to all parties involved, fire crews were able to hold the ridge.