Fire Department Releases Report on Jesusita

Investigation Notes Given to DA for Assessment of Culpability

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department has completed its investigation of the Jesusita Fire. The end result, which was briefly summarized in a press release sent out to area media on Friday, September 4, noted that investigators had confirmed what they initially suspected: The blaze did, in fact, ignite at or near the place where workers had been clearing vegetation along the Jesusita Trail. County Fire spokesperson Capt. Dave Sadecki said photographs and witness observations helped the investigators arrive at this conclusion.

One thing the fire investigators’ report does not do, however, is assign blame to any party. That responsibility belongs to the District Attorney’s office, which received the Jesusita Fire report on September 3.

Sadecki said he was not able to discuss whether the report noted anyone in particular whom the investigators suspect of having started the fire.

The summary of the report also cited basic statistics about the fire. According to the document, Jesusita started at 1:40 p.m. on May 5 and was controlled on May 20 at 6 p.m. The fire burned 8,733 acres, destroyed 80 homes, and prompted 5,894 properties and 14,735 people to be put under mandatory evacuation notice. The height of the fight against the Jesusita Fire saw the involvement of 4,543 firefighters, 529 fire engines, 109 crews, 11 air tankers, and 15 helicopters. The fight resulted in 32 firefighter injuries. In all, the Jesusita Fire cost $19.5 million.

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