Lingering smoke: When the Tea Fire erupted in the foothills of Montecito a year ago this Friday, it scared the Santa Barbara community out of its wits, burned up 2,000 acres, and destroyed 210 homes. Of those homes, 151 were located within Santa Barbara city limits. Of those, 14 have been rebuilt; 47 have been issued permits, and 64 have been passed through the design review process; and 91 have been the subject of serious discussions between owners and city officials. Fire investigators linked the inferno to a group of college-aged partiers who’d been drinking at the famed Tea House, but county prosecutors concluded the case was too weak to go to trial. Instead, the Tea Fire 10, as they became known, were charged with the lesser offense of trespassing. Most were fined and ordered to perform community service, though in their hometowns, not Santa Barbara.
Paul Wellman (file)
Tea Fire Began November 13, 2009