The skies over Santa Barbara were much less foreboding Sunday morning after Saturday’s dramatic plumes from the Rey Fire and associated control burns put South Coast populations on edge, as it appeared the wind-driven wildfire was advancing city-ward from the backcountry. Since then, the blaze has indeed grown in size, up to nearly 19,000 acres, but most of its steady migration has been to the east, deeper into the unpopulated Los Padres National Forest.
“The north side of the fire was really pretty quiet last night, but it did push on the eastside a ways,” said Cheryl Chipman with the South Central Sierra interagency management team. Containment of the blaze remains at 10 percent, she said, and the number of active personnel nearly doubled overnight — up to 770, from 370 yesterday afternoon — as firefighters are released from other wildfires statewide that have slowed down. Chipman reported that a fourth firefighter was injured; she will follow up with details as they become available.
“Yesterday’s firing operation [to deliberately clear vegetation with controlled burning] was very successful,” she said. “And they’re really looking to hold the south and west [edges] to keep the fire from population centers. Even the north side is pretty much holding.”
Firefighters are expecting similar weather patterns today, with cooler morning temperatures heading well into the 80s by mid afternoon, with moderate winds out of the west and northwest.
[UPDATE: 5:15 p.m.] Cheryl Chipman with the South Central Sierra interagency management team clarified on Sunday afternoon that there has only been one “reportable injury,” meaning that the injured firefighter was taken off duty for treatment. It occurred during the initial attack and was a “dehydration incident,” she said.