WEATHER »

Ray Ford

Tea Fire Cause Is Determined

Fire the Result of Carelessness Caused When Bonfire Left Unattended


At a 4 p.m. press conference, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced that as a result of an anonymous tip, investigators were able to identify 10 young adults as those responsible for the cause of the Tea Fire. Brown described them as between the ages of 18 and 22, area residents, and a mixture of males and females. Brown also described them as all coming from one school and being cooperative with investigators.

The breakthrough resulting in their identification came as a result of the appeal made to the community to provide information regarding the fire. More than 40 tips were received, including one anonymous tip relating to a party that had occurred at an area on the east end of the ridgeline overlooking Cold Spring Canyon known as the Tea Garden.

A press conference at the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department announcing that suspects in the Tea Fire have been identified by authorities.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

A press conference at the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department announcing that suspects in the Tea Fire have been identified by authorities.

The cause of the fire appears to be the result of carelessness rather than criminal intent. Sometime Wednesday evening, November 12, the 10 apparently headed up to the Tea Garden to party and this including starting what the Sheriff called a bonfire. When they left sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. Thursday morning, those who attended the gathering told investigators that they thought they had put out the fire, which was built near a wall in the Tea Garden area. Rather than dying out, coals from the fire continued to smolder throughout the day and ignited when the strong sundowner winds picked up Thursday evening.

Brown declined to identify those involved and added that the investigation is still ongoing. At this time reports are being prepared and submitted to the District Attorney’s Office which will decide if any criminal charges will be filed. Anyone with additional information regarding the start of the Tea Fire is encouraged to call the Tip Line at (805) 681-4171.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



event calendar sponsored by:

Pini Property Fights Continue

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

MTD Takes Stand Against Prop. 6

The bus company is concerned about the state funding it relies upon.

County Half-Jokes It Wants Cannabis ‘World Domination’

A government executive implores growers to get legal before time runs out.

Oversized Vehicle Parking Ban Extended

New rule affects Isla Vista, Vandenberg Village, and Butterfly Beach.

Alvarado Endorsed by Capps, Lurie for School Board

He's running against seven other people for two open seats.