Keith Hamm interviews Whittier Fire Incident Commander Mark Von Tillow

Paul Wellman

Keith Hamm interviews Whittier Fire Incident Commander Mark Von Tillow

Fire Duty

“Covering a wildfire from a desk in the safety of an air-conditioned office isn’t as cool as it might sound,” Keith Hamm—pictured above interviewing Mark von Tillow, incident commander for the Whittier Fire—said wryly. But he spent Monday in the Santa Ynez Valley, seemingly on another planet as the green of San Marcos Pass had turned into a black, white, and gray moonscape of Whittier’s path, hazy with smoke and the smell of oily, charred wood. Bumping up the narrow dirt road to Circle V, he thought of the 150 people who rode out the worst of the Whittier Fire: “It’s amazing they all got out of here unscathed.”

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

School Safety Focus of Ongoing Workshops

Santa Barbara Unified will host parent meetings for next several months.

Man with Knife Arrested after Lurking in Granada Garage Elevator

Kenneth Riley Jr., 35, was hiding in the elevator and peering outside.

You Solve It,’ City Tells County on Library Money Shortage

To avoid financial shortfall, city sends ball back to county's court.

Vigil for Victims in Palestine Held at Courthouse

Community gathers to protest injustice.

Stoker to Be Sworn In to EPA Job

Former Santa Barbara County supervisor confirms his appointment as regional head of Environmental Protection Agency.