While flames closed in on West Camino Cielo in several places, the lines held and there is optimism that they will continue to hold.

Ray Ford

While flames closed in on West Camino Cielo in several places, the lines held and there is optimism that they will continue to hold.

Fire on the Mountain

The Story of the Gap Fire, 2008

Telling the story of a wildfire is difficult because so many intense experiences, so many quickly changing facts, so many human dramas must be woven into a whole cloth.

In this issue we have tried to give as clear as possible a picture of what happened to our community during the last week. Ray Ford, our Outdoor Editor, gives a blow-by-blow account of how more than 2,000 firefighters from 28 states assembled in the hills above Goleta to battle the raging blaze. Ethan Stewart, sifting through the more than 60 stories he and other reporters had filed since the fire broke out on July 1, wrote a concise overview of the near catastrophe. Ben Preston, Kathleen Zaratzian, and Abe Peck tell personal tales of life in an evacuation zone.

Also included are a timeline of the fire, day-by-day maps of its explosive growth, and, instead of our usual letters section, we have published just a few of the hundreds of letters and comments from our readers posted online at Lastly, we have profiled firefighters, only two of the many great men and women who risked all to save us.

As Ray Ford noted in his July 7 online dispatch, “I cannot think of any other occupation, apart from the armed forces, which requires you to go any place in the country on a moment’s notice, where your are immediately put into the most difficult of circumstances, and then you are expected to devote your every effort to saving a community you may never visit again.”

• The Great Gap Fire of 2008 by Ethan Stewart

• On the Frontlines - Santa Barbara’s Wildfire Expert Reports from the Ground by Ray Ford

• Gap Fire Timeline by Indy Staff

• Just the Facts by Indy Staff

• Firefighter Portraits by Matt Kettman and Ben Preston

• Stories of Evacuation by Indy Staff

• How the Fire Grew by Indy Staff

• Firefighters Lingo by Indy Staff

• The Gap Firefighters by Indy Staff

• Did the Media Help - A Glimpse of the Brave New World of News by Jerry Roberts

• Online Readers Write In compiled by Indy Staff

• All Gap Fire Coverage by Indy Staff

• Gap Fire Photo Galleries by Indy Staff

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Man Talked Down from Goleta Overpass

The 48-year-old had tied himself to a sign support.

Get Oil Out Founder and Dolphin Sculptor Bud Bottoms Dies

He was a true man-about-town and an engaged public citizen.

Plastic Bags? Throw ’Em Away

Santa Barbara County makes recycling rules tougher in face of exacting standards.

UCSB Ranked Number Three in UC System

UCLA and Cal took the one and two spots.

Pini Property Fights Continue

As an epic attorney battle continues in the Dario Pini receivership, a tenant is getting fed up.