Despite the evacuation order issued last evening for parts of the Santa Ynez Valley and announcements on TV the fire had reached McKinley Ridge, this morning commanders at the fire camp at Live Oak reported the flames were still well below the ridge.
There is no immediate danger to residents in the Santa Ynez Valley. However, as a precaution, one division has been assigned the task of protecting structures in the evacuation zone.
By late afternoon today, if back firing is successful, it may be possible for the order to be rescinded.
Highest priority today is controlling the spread of the fire in the area along Sunset Valley Road from Cachuma Saddle to Davy Brown Campground. Though moving slower than anticipated, the flames are moving steadily in a southwest direction from the Fish Creek area on a line towards the Ranger Peak / Figueroa Mountain area.
“There is a huge amount of vegetation in this area,” one fire fighter told me. “It is extremely steep, with the potential for a real burnout.”
At the same time, additional efforts will be made to burn out the McKinley Ridge out to the road’s end near Santa Cruz Peak. As of this morning the flames were working there way up Manzana Creek and had burned out all of the upper drainage, including the Narrows area.
A quick call to the air attack base in Santa Maria confirmed the fire was poised to move upslope and to McKinley Ridge this morning. “The fire is now beyond Big Cone Spruce Camp,” a Forest Service representative said, “It won’t be long be long before it’s on the crest.”
With luck, fire fighters will have enough time to backfire down into the canyon and meet the advancing fire line before it nears the crest. Incident Commander Aaron Gelobler confirmed there would be extensive burn operations above Peachtree Canyon. “There’ll be a lot of smoke going up,” he explained, “but most of it will be from our efforts to direct the fire away from the valley areas.”
With luck, tonight at the community meeting to be held in Solvang, forest officials will be there not only to answer questions but to tell the public it is safe to go home.