(Above photo: Firefighter Glen Ohler and Santa Maria City Captain Rick Smith fighting the Santa Maria fire on Sunday afternoon.)
Two blazes bookended this past weekend, keeping Santa Barbara County fire crews busy on Friday and Monday.
First, firefighters responded to reports of a vehicle fire at around 4:30 p.m. alongside the southbound lanes of Highway 101, near the turn off to Nojoqui Falls. Upon arriving at the scene, they found a “fully engulfed” tow truck with a Lexus sedan behind it. The fire had spread to an approximately 75-square foot area. Firefighters extinguished it in about 10 minutes, but the tow truck had been completely destroyed in the blaze. County Fire Spokesman Capt. Eli Iskow noted that motorists should take caution when pulling off the road in grassy rural areas, as doing so always poses a risk of starting a vegetation fire.
At noon on Sunday, County Fire crews again responded to a North County blaze in conjunction with engines from the City of Santa Maria Fire Department. This fire, which created a plume of black smoke visible from throughout Santa Maria, had begun at Central Coast Packaging at 110 Industrial Way and consumed a 10,000-square foot building that contained wooden pallets and waxed packaging boxes, which helped feed the fire. Crews managed to extinguish the fire within by 1 p.m. Iskow said that one County engine left Santa Maria at 3:25 p.m., while a second remained until 7:30 p.m. and helped Santa Maria crews clean up the burned area.
The fire consumed several Dumpsters and Edison power poles. The damage to the power poles knocked out electricity to parts of Santa Maria for a portion of Sunday afternoon.