After several days of relatively little movement, the Zaca Fire exploded, advancing more than three miles within a few hours this morning. At 9 a.m. there was little indication the fire was ready to move, with the smoke and fire contained to isolated locations near Santa Cruz Peak and further north near the Mission Pine Ridge.
However, by 11 a.m. the fire was cooking. At Live Oak Fire Camp the thunderhead could be seen building and was so large it appeared as if it were threatening the camp itself. However, from the observation point near Santa Marcos Pass it was clear the fire line was moving rapidly to the east, eating up huge chunks of the upper parts of Santa Cruz Canyon.
By 1 p.m., the towering thunderhead was located almost directly over Little Pine Mountain and to the north, more than likely burning out the East Fork of Santa Cruz drainage.
Fire officials have decided to issue an evacuation warning for the Paradise area and residents should be notified shortly. They are also in discussions as to whether to close Paradise Road to the public as well.
Further into the interior, the fire is threatening to move over the crest of Mission Pine ridge and head down towards the Sisquoc River. Yesterday, afternoon the fire crossed Mission Pine Trail west of the Basin and uphill to a point where it could start downhill into the Sisquoc drainage. Today, the drama in this area has been overshadowed by the rapid expansion of the fire line north of Little Pine.
Though this rapid movement of the fire line may actually be good news for the Paradise residents, it represents a major expansion of the fire. Tomorrow we may be talking about a fireline that extends east into the Dick Smith Wilderness.