The Whittier Fire, as seen from Winchester Canyon Road on Thursday evening.
Evacuation Order Called for Areas West of Goleta
Officals Concerned for Sundowner Conditions at Whittier Fire
Friday, July 14, 2017
A mandatory evacuation order went out at 11 a.m. for most of Winchester Canyon Road west to El Capitan Ranch Road, but excluding the communities of Wagon Wheel, Langlo Ranch Road, and Winchester Commons. The area stretches from Calle Real to West Camino Cielo. With the potential for Sundowner conditions later in the day, more fire fighting staff are moving into the area to continue work on fuel breaks being constructed along the foothills on ranches in the area.
Residents of the area under the warning level — which means to get ready to go if ordered to do so — have been visiting the information sandwich boards set up at a couple intersections on Winchester Canyon Road and also at Costco. Indy contributor Vic Cox, who said his home is right on the cusp of the mandatory zone, described the information as sometimes a little out-of-date, but that people are using the maps to orient themselves to the fire’s location. Last night, he said, the fingers of fire headed upslope were clearly visible from overpasses. He said they were “putting things together in the car” just in case.
Santa Barbara County OEM
Whittier Fire Mandatory Evacuation Map — lower area in yellow went into mandatory evacuation as of 11 a.m. 7/14/17
San Marcos High School (4750 Hollister Avenue) is the designated evacuation center, and small pets are being accepted. Earl Warren Showgrounds is taking large animals, but people are advised to first call Animal Services at (805) 681-4332 before bringing their animals to Earl Warren.
At Friday morning’s briefing, fire officials continued to warn their troops of the dangers of dehydration and heat exhaustion, which included the news that a total of five firefighters had left the front lines for heat-related incidents since the start of the fire on July 8, but all had returned to duty. What the National Weather Service called a “mild” Sundowner blew embers into visible flame last night, causing many calls to 9-1-1. In the upper reaches of the fire burning along the Santa Ynez Range, temperatures could reach 99 degrees, with relative humidity in the 20 percent range. The sundowner could gust up to 30 mph.
The flames seen in Goleta last night were from fire backing down and up from the top of Gato and Dos Pueblos canyons, about two miles west of town. Fire crews spent last night and will spend today constructing wide swaths of firebreak — removing brush and trying to place it out the fire’s expected path — in that area and also on the west side toward Refugio Pass.
Incident commanders and their teams gather at Dos Pueblos High School, the site of incident command for the Whittier Fire, to go over Thursday evening’s briefing.
Around the state, CalFire reports 14 large wildfires are occupying about 7,500 firefighters. The heat and humidity are raising temps to 110 in the San Joaquin and 115 in desert areas. Potential gusts of 30 mph are forecast for Friday and Saturday nights in the Santa Barbara County, according to CalFire.
On the northern border of Santa Barbara County, the Alamo Fire reached 90 percent containment. Residents only are being allowed back into the Tepusquet area; the damage evaluation is one structure destroyed, one damaged. Fire personnel are 1,839 on the line or operating dozers, and two helicopters in the air for support.
If a potential for evacuation concerns residents, fire officials suggest getting ready now or going ahead and leaving. Plans for evacuation include designating a safe meeting spot for family members, identifying more than one escape route from home, and asking an out-of-town relative or friend to be a contact for the family group should local phone lines become overwhelmed. Santa Barbara County Fire’s “Ready Set Go” program provides more information.
Editor’s Note: The map original published with this story erroneously included Winchester Commons in the mandatory evac order. Winchester Commons currently is under an evacuation warning, not order.
Darkness Highlights Whittier’s Flames
Update on the Alamo Fire