Trees at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens silhouetted against the smoky haze.
Drew Mackie

Mild winds in the morning kept a fire at the Sedgwick Ranch, seven miles northeast of Los Olivos, at the top of Figueroa Mountain Road from burning too quickly, but fire officials are fearful the fire could be pushed by stronger afternoon winds.

According to Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow, the vegetation fire, which was reported at 6 a.m. Sunday, has burned about 400 acres, and roughly 200 firefighters are fighting the fire on the ground, in addition to four air tankers and four water-dropping helicopters. Containment lines are being built and reinforced around the areas south and west of the fire in anticipation of possible stronger afternoon winds. Two strike teams of structure protection engines have been placed around residences in the area, and an evacuation warning has been issued for residents of the Woodstock area and local ranches. The warning area spans from Figueroa Mountain Road, Roblar and Brinkerhoff, according to Iskow.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Officials were fearful the warm weather teamed with high Santa Ana winds would be cause for concern, and it turns out they were correct. In addition to the fire in Northern Santa Barbara County, a wildfire is threatening Pepperdine University, as well as many homes, in Malibu, and there are reports of a person killed by a fire in San Diego. Reports indicate at least eight blazes in Southern California.

A Red Flag Alert has been declared for the entire county, Iskow said, until Tuesday, when conditions will be reassessed. In the meantime, citizens are cautioned to be extremely careful not to start or worsen fires, as conditions for wildfires are currently optimal. The alert comes from the change in weather conditions toward hot weather, low humidity and high winds. “Any activity in brush areas or areas with vegetation should be done using extreme caution,” Iskow said in a statement issued Sunday.

The strong winds have also pushed much of the settled ash from the Zaca Fire into Santa Barbara, creating a haze over the city and a caution from the county’s public health department. Issued yesterday, the advisory warns residents that air quality is unhealthy for residents. In addition to the Zaca Fire ash and possible smoke blowing in from the Sedgwick Fire, there is also a possibility of smoke blowing into the county from a fire in Ventura County. Public health officials are advising residents to stay indoors as much as possible, and not to overexert themselves when outdoors. Windows and doors should also be kept closed to keep bad air flow out. Those with asthma or respiratory problems, as well as people with heart conditions should monitor their conditions.

The county has also established a hotline to assist pet owners with animal evacuation and shelter because of the Sedgwick Fire. Those needing help or anyone interesting in assisting in moving or sheltering animals may call the hotline at (805) 681-4332.


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