Independent reporter Chris Meagher is on scene in Montecito, and just received information indicating that the Tea Fire has moved west, and has entered the City of Santa Barbara. The number of structures consumed by the blaze has not yet been confirmed, but it is reported to be more than 100. Independent correspondent Ray Ford reported from Las Alturas Road that the fire has entered the Riviera. “This is bad news,” he said. The group assigned to Westmont College is “in immediate need” according to information gleaned by Meagher from Montecito Fire.
Meagher spoke to one of the firefighters from the Montecito Fire Protection District who was on duty when the fire began. He was dirty and eating a banana. Although the conversation was brief, Meagher was able to ascertain that the fire was first spotted by the fire crew at Montecito Fire Protection District Station 2, located at the intersection of Sycamore Canyon and Cold Spring Road. According to the firefighter interviewed by Meagher, at about 5:30 p.m., firefighters could see a one- to two-acre fire from their station. By the time they arrived at the location, in an area near the northern boundary of Westmont College known as the Tea Garden, the fire had spread significantly. Having grown too large to cut out, the fire crew changed their tactics to structure containment.
Currently, KCAL TV news reports that 20,000 people are without power as a result of the fire. Mandatory evacuations have been issued north of Highway 192 between Hot Springs and Cold Spring roads. An evacuation shelter has been set up by the American Red Cross at San Marcos High School – located at the intersection of Turnpike Road and Hollister Avenue. Shelter for large animals has been set up at Earl Warren Showgrounds, and for small animals at the Humane Society on Patterson Avenue, south of the freeway.
Meagher said that the wind has calmed noticably, but that seven Los Angeles County Fire engines just arrived on scene.