Despite it being mid-winter, record 80 degree temperatures for January 21 and low humidity contributed to the spread of 15-foot flames directly uphill towards Miramonte Drive and the KEYT television studios just before 6 p.m. The fire began along Loma Alta Drive, a narrow road that winds from the westside up to Cliff Drive near the entry to City College.
At least four Santa Barbara City Fire Engines responded to Loma Alta and at least three more to Miramonte Drive. Fire Captain Mike de Ponce from Engine 1 described the terrain as extremely difficult, with the flames climbing uphill rapidly. Engineer Jack Franklin said that the crews coming down from Miramonte faced a dangerous situation, with the fire heading uphill directly toward them.
Despite these challenges the crews were able to knock down the hottest part of the fire just below a home located at 548 Miramonte and begin cutting containment lines on both sides of the fire while the lower engine crews then began to work their way up, cutting containment line and dousing hot spots. By 6:50 p.m. as I surveyed the hillside from Loma Alta it appeared the fire was under control.
Though fire officials haven’t yet determined the cause of the TV Hill fire, they have pinpointed the location where it started along the uphill edge of Loma Alta approximately one quarter mile down from Cliff Drive.