Saturday Fire Alert: The Montecito Fire District has unlocked the security gate on State Highway 144 (Sycamore Canyon) in Montecito due to a general fire alert. According to Battalion Chief Chip Hickman of the Montecito Fire District a wildfire began late this afternoon in Santa Barbara’s back county on the north side of Paradise Road. As of 9 pm. the fire had consumed 200 acres and, as of this posting has not yet been contained.

“The fire does not currently pose a threat to the front county, but we wanted to open the gate on 144 as a precautionary measure,” Chief Hickman said. Signs directing traffic toward that exit have also been set up on Sycamore Canyon. Montecito Fire District joined city and county fire response by sending battalion chief and four men and one engine to assist in the backcountry fire.

Should wind conditions create an ash flow problem, the Montecito Fire District supplied the following tips to Montage last September during the Fillmore fire, and they may prove useful now:

Updated, 8:30am, July 1: InciWeb has an update on what is now called a “Rancho Wildland Fire” currently burning 300 acres. According to the report, the location is”five air miles north of Santa Barbara, near Paradise Road, east of First Crossing, … good progress has been made along the west flank. Potential problems exist on the east flank.”

Ash Flow Tips:

We will probably continue to experience this ash flow for some time, so keep your doors, windows and dampers closed. Stay indoors to minimize exposure — especially if you have respiratory ailments. Here are some other things to consider when dealing with large amounts of ash fall:

• Wash ash off children’s toys before children play with them.

• Clean ash off house pets.

• Wear gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants and avoid skin contact.

• If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.

• If you have a vegetable garden or fruit trees, wash the fruit or vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

• Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Do not use leaf blowers or take other actions that will put ash into the air.

• Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles, but rather blow such particles out the exhaust into the air where they can be breathed. The use of shop vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. HEPA filter vacuums could be used, if available.

• Well fitting dust masks may provide some protection during cleanup. A mask rated N-95 or P-100 will be more effective than simpler dust or surgical masks in blocking particles from ash. In general, many ash particles are larger than those found in smoke; thus, wearing a dust mask can significantly reduce (but not completely eliminate) the amount of particles inhaled.

• Persons with heart or lung disease should consult their physician during ash fall.

• Gentle sweeping of indoor and outdoor hard surfaces followed by wet mopping is the best procedure in most cases. A damp cloth or wet mop may be all that is needed on lightly dusted areas.

• Avoid washing ash into storm drains whenever possible.

• If ash is wet down, use as little water as possible.

• Collected ash may be disposed of in the regular trash. Ash may be stored in plastic bags or other containers that will prevent it from being disturbed.

Take this opportunity to check YOUR evacuation/disaster kits. If you are unsure what you should have, check out the MERRAG website for more information.


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