Early Morning Gap Fire Update
Fire Grows As Fire Fighters Hope for Cooperative Winds
Thus far, wind has been the main enemy in the battle against the Gap Fire, which continues to burn in the mountains north of Goleta. As of 1 a.m., the U.S. Forest Service reported that the size of the fire had increased to 1,950 acres-a jump in size from the 300 acres reported at 6 p.m. Fire officials stated that the cause of this dramatic increase in size were high winds at sundown, which have since died down. The evacuation orders remain the same, with La Patera and Glen Annie Canyons having been completely evacuated, and the north side of Cathedral Oaks Road between Glen Annie and Los Carneros Roads still on evacuation watch. The increased size of the fire caused the County to proclaim a local declaration of a state of emergency, which will put more state resources at the County’s fingertips. The proclamation is scheduled for ratification by the County Board of Supervisors this morning at 11:30 a.m.
Due to its location in the path of the fire, the main power transmission line for the South Coast of Santa Barbara County was surrounded by dense smoke from the fire. According to the Forest Service, carbon-a conductive material-in the smoke caused a short in the lines that had initially caused 150,000 South Coast customers of Southern California Edison to go without power. Although the entire South Coast was dark since around 6:30 p.m., by 10 p.m., a smaller transmission line coming from Ventura had been set up to supply power to southern Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. Edison officials reported that 48,104 customers were without power at that time.
Aside from a few beacons-such as parts of UCSB’s campus and Bacara Spa & Resort, which have on site generators-much of the South Coast is still without power. A recent survey revealed that parts of Goleta now have power, but Isla Vista is still without. According to Southern California Edison officials, extra crews have been on standby since the beginning of the fire, and are working to restore power to the area, hopefully by early morning they said. No further information was available from Edison at press time.
At around 7:30 p.m., an employee of the Goleta Water District who was on site at the facility at the northern end of Glen Annie Road said that the pumping station there could run without external power for 24 hours before having to be refueled. After that, diesel fuel will have to be trucked in to power the pumps. “The biggest issue we’re dealing with is the power outage,” said Terri Nisich, a public information officer at the County’s Emergency Operations Center on Calle Real.
A car based survey of the fire showed that it extends to the west just past Farren Road, and East to the area near West Camino Cielo Road. A tour of the lemon groves at the end of Ellwood Canyon Road just before 1 a.m. revealed that open flames have reached far enough south to be in proximity to the orchards. Some of the roads through the canyon were surrounded on both sides by flames, although they had not yet reached the lemon trees. According to County Fire Department Public Affairs, they are hopeful that the wind will remain calm throughout the night and into tomorrow. Fire crews continue to arrive from other parts of the state. Several engines from San Diego County arrived at approximately 12:45 a.m., having just finished fighting fires at Yosemite.
For more information, please visit this earlier story, or call the U.S. Forest Service fire information line at (805) 961-5770.