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A hotshot crew ascends the northern reaches of El Capitan Ranch to complete hand lines intended to stop or slow the southward spread of the Whittier Fire on July 14th.

Brandon Yadegari

A hotshot crew ascends the northern reaches of El Capitan Ranch to complete hand lines intended to stop or slow the southward spread of the Whittier Fire on July 14th.


Whittier Fire: Friday, July 21 Update


The Whittier Fire is expected to grow minimally over the next 24 hours, and last night, west Goleta residents could see flare-ups. Meanwhile, containment has jumped to 83 percent. The number of firefighting personnel assigned to the wildfire — which started during a heatwave on July 8 at Camp Whittier — is dropping daily, and suppression recovery specialists are expected next week.

The U.S. Forest Service’s BAER (Burn Area Emergency Response) team will assess “burned watersheds … to identify unacceptable post-fire threats and implement emergency treatments to reduce unacceptable risks before the first major storm,” according to the Whittier overview at InciWeb. “The fire results in a loss of vegetation, exposure of the soil to erosion and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding and increased sediment and debris flows. BAER treatments, such as the installation of erosion and runoff water control devices; temporary barriers to protect recovering areas; warning signs; and drainage features for increased flow may be implemented.”

West Camino Cielo is closed to the public from Winchester Gun Club to Refugio Road. The following evacuation warnings remain in place: Cachuma Village; Calle Real north to West Camino Cielo; and Winchester Canyon Road on the east to El Capitan Ranch Road on the west.

To date on the Whittier, there have been 11 reportable injuries and 433 cases of poison oak, according to Captain Dave Zaniboni, a public information officer with Santa Barbara County Fire Department. Steroid injections were used to treat 55 of the poison oak cases. Of the 11 reportable injuries, eight were heat related, one was a seizure, and two were traumatic, according to Zaniboni, including a chainsaw injury, on July 19, to a firefighter’s hand that required helicopter transport to Cottage Health hospital.

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