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Evacuation Warning: North of 101, Turnpike to Fairview

Updated With a Report on the 10:45 p.m. Press Conference


Originally published 12:04 a.m., May 8, 2009
Updated 12:15 a.m., May 8, 2009

The Office of Emergency Services at 11:55 p.m. has declared the area north of Highway 101 from Turnpike Road west to Fairview Avenue to be under an evacuation warning. The area extends from the end of Fairview to West Camino Cielo.

This is an evacuation warning, not a mandatory evacuation order.

Report on the 10:45 p.m. Press Conference

"It's probably the worst emergency that has faced the county in the last 25 years," Sheriff Bill Brown said during a late, short-notice press conference Thursday night after the Jesusita Fire roared west toward Goleta in recent hours.

And at the rate the fire is going, it may not be an exaggeration. Newly announced evacuation areas in West Santa Barbara and outside the city limits mean 18,000 more people and 7,381 more parcels are affected.

According to Kelly Gouette, deputy incident commander from Cal Fire, 120 sleeping firefighters were awoken in recent hours to help with the fire, which he said is acting like a "blowtorch." Officials have also made requests for more help and expect that help to arrive in the morning.

While Brown said the fire had already jumped Highway 154, Gouette said the reports were unconfirmed, though it appeared earlier in the night the jump was close to inevitable. (Since the press conference, other sources have claimed that the fire had, in fact, crossed the 154.) There are almost certainly homes lost in the recent move west made by the fire, which now could make its way out to Goleta and run into the Gap Fire scar area.

The fire was moving laterally around the 800-foot level of the mountainside, and the wind was causing "extreme fire behavior," Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Tom Franklin said. An area largely inaccessible by handcrews, aircraft also was limited to drop. "Make that decision to leave early," Franklin said. "It's a deadly fire. We don't want to count you as one of the victims of this fire."

Officials wouldn't make any estimates on new numbers of acreage amounts, homes destroyed, or percent contained, leaving those numbers at 2,739, 75, and 10, though they have most certainly almost increased. There are more than 2,300 personnel working on the fire, including 246 engines, 10 tankers and 15 helicopters, though most of the flights have ceased for the night.

At a noon update, Franklin indicated that 80 percent of air resources were dedicated to protect the eastern flank of the fire. But it was the west end that needed to be stopped. Gouette explained the actions. "Where the action was yesterday was on the eastside. We made a lot of progress on the eastside. Now there's a shift," he said. "Sometimes you can only take what the fire gives you."

As the fire enters its third day Friday, there is hope that the wind will mellow out tomorrow and be more amiable to putting the fire out.

"We know what we need to do," Gouette said. Sometimes it's just easier to say what we need to do than do what we need to do because of the extreme weather."

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