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La Brea Fire Report for Saturday

Another 10,000 Acres Gone; Back-fires and Burn Outs Continue


Originally published 9:23 a.m., August 15, 2009
Updated 3:32 p.m., August 15, 2009

The containment of La Brea jumped to 25 ercent after long days of fire-line construction and burning operations in several geographical areas along the fire perimeter. The fire is now estimated at 75,486 acres. Substantial progress has been made from the north-west area beginning at Buckhorn Canyon and running south-east to Horse Canyon. The majority of this line is in and holding. Fire engines remain in place along Tepusquet Road to protect structures if the fire should jump the fuel break.

La Brea Fire progression map, August 15, 2009
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford (SB Trails Council)

La Brea Fire progression map, August 15, 2009

The north line will be improved and mopped up today as crews work to hold the fire line along the Treplett fuel break. A dozer line is being built in Schoolhouse Canyon up to Sierra Madre and should be finished today. The challenge remains the south-east portion of the burn in the San Rafael Wilderness because of the lack of acceptable ridgelines or solid points to build containment line. A major effort to improve existing containment perimeter using dozers and by burning out remaining brush will be made today. This should close the gaps that exist on the west side.

David L. Gross/ Zuma Press

The completion of the Schoolhouse Canyon dozer line is high priority on the east end. Fixed wing aircraft and three helibases are supporting the fire, one at Santa Ynez Airport, one at Santa Maria Airport, and a supply helibase at the Incident Command Post. A retardant base is located at Spanish Ranch in Cuyama Valley. Structure protection will continue in the Tepusquet and Pine Canyon areas, and along Foothill Road in Cuyama Valley.

An evacuation order is in effect for all of Tepusquet Canyon, from Santa Maria Mesa Road to Highway 166, all of Colson and Ruiz Canyons, and the Blazing Saddles community Pine and Buckhorn Canyons, along Forest Roads 11N04 and 11N05, affecting 10 residences. An additional evacuation order issued is in effect for the following areas:

Western Boundary: Sierra Madre Road;

Southern Boundary: Cottonwood Road;

Eastern Boundary: Highway 166;

Northern Boundary: Spoor Canyon. This area includes Moon and Eckert Canyons.

An Evacuation Warning exists for areas bounded by Cottonwood Road and Wasioja Road, and between Highway 166 and Sierra Madre Road. The New Cuyama High School and Benjamin Foxen Elementary School are currently the designated temporary emergency shelter staffed by the Santa Barbara County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

If you need assistance with the evacuation and sheltering of animals, please contact the animal hotline at 681-4332.

Weather for today will be mostly sunny with temperatures in the lower elevations of 88 - 98 and 80 - 88 on the ridgetops. Ridgetop winds will be north to northeast at 10 - 18 mph in the afternoon with gusts to 20 mph. Tonight will be mostly clear with lows of 54 - 60 in the lower elevations and 60 - 70 on the ridges.

David L. Gross/ Zuma Press

Helicopter in La Brea fire

Due to emergency vehicle traffic and congestion on Highway 166, the public is urged to seek an alternate route and to use extra caution when traveling the highway. A well-attended community meeting was held tonight at Benjamin Foxen Elementary School in Sisquoc. Speakers included both incident commanders, and local sheriff and fire department representatives.

The Fire Investigation Team is asking for the public’s assistance to help establish the cause of La Brea Fire. If you have any information regarding this fire, please contact Forest Service fire investigators at (805) 686-5074.

Investigators have spoken to witnesses, but are still seeking additional information that may assist with the ongoing investigation. The emergency closure order is still in effect for portions of the Los Padres National Forest in and around the fire.

For more information, please contact Fire Information at (805) 961-5770 from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Temporary flight restrictions have been put in place over the fire and surrounding area.

Engines: 108

Crews: 59

Dozers: 25

Helicopters: 14

Watertenders: 38

Total personnel: 1980

Friday, firefighters successfully conducted burn-out operations to strengthen fire line on the west flank of La Brea Fire from Colson Canyon Quarry north toward Buckhorn Ridge. Crews continued to hold and mop up along the north portion of the Treplett fuel break by Miranda Pine. Fire-line construction continued from Cuyama Valley to Sierra Madre Ridge. Structure protection crews worked in the Tepusquet and Pine Canyon areas, and along Foothill Road in Cuyama Valley.

The skies filled with La Brea fire smoke, as viewed from Santa Barbara's Tea Fire burn area.
Click to enlarge photo

Jan Campbell

The skies filled with La Brea fire smoke, as viewed from Santa Barbara’s Tea Fire burn area.

Firefighters continue to battle the blaze with all means at their disposal including the best tools, technology, and equipment available. Fire behavior conditions are challenging due to a combination of extremely dense, old vegetation, bone-dry fuels, and erratic winds.

Current Situation: Crews will continue fire-line construction and burn out above Cuyama Valley. Structure protection will continue tonight in the Tepusquet and Pine Canyon areas, and along Foothill Road in Cuyama Valley. Friday night, firefighters attempted burn-out operations to strengthen the fire line from Rattlesnake Canyon southeast to Horse Canyon. They sought to hold and mop up fire line along Sierra Madre Road and the northern portion of the Treplett fuel break.

Current Situation

Total Personnel: 1,980

Size: 75,486 acres

Percent Contained: 25 percent

Fuels Involved: Primarily chaparral with areas of grass and timber.

Fire Behavior: Burning operations were successful witn the slight increase in humidity overnight. Fire behavior was active throughout the night.

Significant Events: Burn operations were successful from Colson Quarry north toward Buckhorn Ridge in the Tempesquet area. The fire has crossed the Sisquoc River by the Manzana Schoolhouse Campground. Fire crews continue to hold and mop up along the north portion of the Treplett fuel break by Miranda Pine. Structure protection is still in place along Foothill Road and Cottonwood, Pine, and Tepesquet Canyons.

Outlook

Planned Actions: Crews will hold and mop up along Sierra Madre Road and the north portion of the Treplett fuel break. Crews will continue construction of direct fire line and burn out along Rattlesnake Canyon east to South Fork Canyon. Construct direct and indirect line from Kelly Canyon north.

Growth Potential: Extreme

Terrain Difficulty: Extreme

La Brea Fire is being managed under unified command with CAL FIRE and California Interagency Management Team 3.

Cause: Under Investigation

Date of Origin: Saturday August 8, 2009 approx 02:50 PM

Location: 26 miles east of Santa Maria

Incident Commander: Pincha - Tulley / Lewin

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