[UPDATE]:The White Fire is now 5 percent contained, but it has grown to 1,000 acres according to the U.S. Forest Service. Investigators have located the point of origin at the White Rock campground, but have not determined a cause, said Forest Service spokesperson, Andrew Madsen.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, between 4,000 and 6,000 people were evacuated from the Paradise Road area. The Forest Service estimates that, of the evacuees, about 1,000 were recreating near the campsite. “A lot of folks saw the flame and smelt it; even before they were contacted…a lot of them were headed out,” said Madsen.
The Forest Service requested 600 firefighters to battle the blaze. At around 7:30 p.m. 300 were on the job with 200 more en route. The incident command is at the Los Prietos fire station, which the fire burned behind before firefighters were able to put it out. Two vehicles were “singed out,” Madsen said.
The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory through Wednesday morning. Currently, winds are still, but they are expected to pick up around 3 a.m. Whether the fire spreads depends on the wind, as it originally spread eastward by winds out of the west. “We’ll see when the sun comes up,” said Madsen. “We’ll have a plan of attack and we’ll pick it up then.”
[UPDATE]: Santa Barbara County Fire spokesperson David Sadecki said the White Fire has burned more than 700 acres as of 6 p.m. There are no injuries reported. Air tankers, helicopters, and hand crews continue to fight the blaze.
At least two cars were destroyed by the fire, and one structure damaged. Approximately 50 to 75 homes and cabins have been evacuated.
The last fire to hit the area was the 2007 Rancho Fire, according to county officials.
The American Red Cross said White Fire evacuees are welcome at the Wake Center at 300 Turn Pike Road. More info will be provided as soon as it’s released.
[UPDATE]: The latest estimate is 700 acres burned. A U.S. Forest Service building was partially burned, according to David Sadecki, County fire department spokesperson. Two vehicles — one Forest Service and one private — were also burned. There are no reported injuries. The Red Cross has established an evacuation center at 300 N. Turnpike Road.
[UPDATE]: The White Fire — named after the White Rock campground where it started — is approximately 500 acres and growing, said an official with the U.S. Forest Service. Around “50-75 residents have been either evacuated or displaced,” they said.
[UPDATE]: Independent staff photographer Paul Wellman is on the scene and reports Highway 154 has steady traffic travelling southbound towards Santa Barbara and that winds are strong on the San Marcos pass.
[UPDATE]: County Fire officials say approximately 50 structures are currently threatened, and all campgrounds in the area are being evacuated. Winds are approximately 20 mph; the temperature is 80 degrees. Responding to the blaze are units from the US Forest Service, Santa Barbara County Fire Department, and Santa Maria Fire. The fire is on a south-facing slope of the mountains.
Fourteen fire engines, 2 dozers, 3 water tenders, 2 hand crews, 4 air tankers, and 2 helicopters are on the scene.
[UPDATE]: Tanker pilots are coordinating with dispatchers on the ground. Parts of Paradise Road are on fire and inaccessible, but responders are working to evacuate cabins and homes in the area. Recent estimates of the fire’s size put it at 40-50 acres
[ORIGINAL REPORT]:There’s a sizeable vegetation fire burning right now in the mountains above Santa Barbara. It appears to have started at around 2:30 p.m. near the White Rock Campground off Paradise Road in the Los Padres National Forest. Recent estimates put it at 10 acres and growing.
Firefighting crews — including helicopters and tankers — have been dispatched and scanner chatter indicates evacuation orders are in place for all of Paradise Road and and upper part of the Santa Ynez Valley. Hikers, mountain bikers, and motorists are being told to leave the area. Winds are moving east.
Check back for constant updates.