Between 2 p.m. and dusk today, Santa Barbara residents can expect to see plumes of smoke rising from the hills where the Tea Fire began nearly one week ago. The smoke is no cause for concern, according to a press release from fire officials, but only a result of tests being performed by those investigating the disaster. The smoke should be rising from around East Mountain Drive and Cold Spring Road and may be an unusual color, the press release noted. Fire crews are present at the site in case fires get out of control.
People should not hesitate to call 911, however, if they see smoke rising from other areas.
On a related note, the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health this afternoon release its own statement advising Santa Barbara residents that it may be unhealthy to be outside this evening as a result of winds that are expected to blow ash particles around the city. People should stay inside to protect their lungs. People who suffer from heart or lung ailments - including asthma - are especially in danger. Those who suffer repeated coughing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness are advised to contact their health care provider.
Because low humidity and sundowner winds as strong as 45 miles per hour are expected tonight, the National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for southern Santa Barbara County. Residents should be especially cautious not to start any fires and, if at all possible, avoid activities that involve fire.