Home on Mission Canyon

Although the task can be difficult in a wildfire zone – especially one with as many twists, turns, and long driveways as the foothills of Santa Barbara – The Independent‘s reporters are trying their hardest to deliver what everyone who’s evacuated wants to know: the addresses of homes that have not survived the Jesusita Fire.

The good news, echoed by every reporter who headed out into the field, is that there are an astonishing number of homes in clearly dangerous burn areas that appear unscathed or merely toasty. Or, as County Fire Chief Tom Franklin said on Thursday morning, “By all rights, there should have been hundreds lost, not dozens.”

The bad news is that the fire is still burning and remains a threat to parts of Goleta, Painted Cave, Flores Flats, Santa Barbara, and Montecito, which is why the evacuation order remains in effect for some zones.

We are fully aware that mistakes in this sort of reporting could be horrible for homeowners who get the wrong information, so we’ve strived for the utmost accuracy. Furthermore, based on responses we’ve already received during this fire and others, we believe that this public service is one of our most valuable roles as a media entity, and hope you find the information useful.

UPDATED: Saturday, 3:15 p.m.

Sam Kornell just called in again with the last addresses on Tunnel Road. So long as this fire doesn’t get any life back in it, this should serve as the final update to the list of burned homes, save for some of the more remote properties higher up in the mountains.

Kornell reports:

Tunnel Road: The two pink ranch-style houses at 1330, the one closest to the street sustained damage to the ocean-facing wall.

The driveway to the left of that property, if going up Tunnel Road, got hit pretty hard. “I got a little emotional,” said Kornell. “All but one house burned. It’s so sad, I couldn’t believe it.” On that driveway, the burned homes are 1295, 1285, 1265, 1267, 1255, and a house at the end of a little street called Memory Lane, which is possibly 1242. The only surviving home on that driveway is 1239.

Going back down Tunnel, 1297 and 1215 are gone. Close to the back entrance of the Botanic Garden, there is a driveway with homes listed simply by the letter. It could be 1166, but it was hard to tell. Kornell found an address that said 1166-H, and that home is gone. Also gone on that driveway are the properties identified by the letters A, F, H, and N. “That driveway was interesting because, even though four houses burned, most of the houses did not burn,” said Kornell. “It was stange because that driveway is just down from the driveway where almost all of the houses burned.”

Also gone on Tunnel is 1140, which Kornell believes is owned by the Botanic Garden.

UPDATED: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

Here is our latest damage report:

Correspondent Sam Kornell has been out again checking out Mission Canyon. Kornell echoes the amazement about how many homes are still standing, saying, “What is crazy is how many houses were saved.”

He reports:

Spyglass Ridge Road: 1497 seems to be the only home that perished on the actual ridge that overlooks Lauro Reservoir.

A busted hose outside a destroyed home is evidence that firefighters did all they could to save it.
Matt Kettmann

Tunnel Road: Kornell was unclear if this address was Tunnel or Spyglass, but says that 1489 has burned, which is up the steep driveway on the way to Spyglass from Tunnel. Also, he couldn’t find the address, but the home at the end of the driveway lined with Italian cypress trees is also gone.

Paseo Del Ocaso: On this little offshoot from Mission Canyon Road, four homes were destroyed. 1415 burned, as did two homes up the driveway from it. Another home that burned on this street is missing its address; it is the first house on the road on the right, and has a power pole across the street from the driveway.

Mission Canyon Road: The burned addresses here are: 1200, 1234 (but just a cottage and outbuilding, apparently), 1402, and 2050. Also burned was a home that is across the street and slightly up toward the mountains from 1400, but 1400 is okay.

Kornell also wanted to clarify an earlier report he wrote about a property on Holly Road, the one that was slightly above and to the east of 2931. It’s confusing because there is another house right next to it on the east. The house that’s standing is a yellowish beige color with a red-tiled roof and a silver Honda SUV in the driveway. That house survived. The adjacent home is gone.

Reporter Ethan Stewart spent the morning double-checking the properties in the Ontare Road area north of Foothill Road. Like Kornell and everyone else, Stewart was effusive in his surprise for what’s still there. “It is absolutely remarkable that not more house were lost,” said Stewart, explaining that the canyons all around the area were “super cooked,” especially on the side toward Northridge Road. “The firefighters must have sat in every single backyard and held it off. The fire reached literally the backyards of every single one of them, but I didn’t see a single house burned up there.” He notes that there may be long driveways that lead deep into the side valleys that he was not able to investigate, but he went down every little alley he could find, and saw no destroyed properties.

The same thing could be said for Northridge Road, where he saw a couple of toasted cars and a little smoke damage, but no completely burned out homes. At the top of the road, there were some burned out bulldozers, but the house just above them was fine, though there was a lot of law enforcement in the area, treating the spot as a possible crime scene, which may indicate a firefighter was injured there. Saturday morning saw a bunch of fire crews tending to the still smoking hot spots in the terrain between Northridge and Barger Canyon, putting them out one by one.

Up Barger Canyon Road, Stewart drove all the way to the water tanks, “which is way the hell down there,” he said. “I saw some outbuildings damaged, but no house lost whatsoever.” He said that there was a dirt road that continues on, and there may be a home up that way, but there was no mailbox. There were a couple of exploded cars though.

He checked out Antone Road, and found no homes burned. Debra Lane was a different story though. Both 1450 and 1450-B are gone. He drove to the very last gate on Debra, and just past that, down on the left side of the road in the canyon, a home was burned to the ground, but there was no visible address.

The remains of a home on Orange Grove Ave.
Paul Wellman

What Stewart did find, however, was a classic scene when he drove up near a firefighter from a Beverly Hills crew, covered in soot and chilling near his engine. He was reading the brand new Surfer magazine. Stewart told him, “I haven’t seen that one yet,” and the firefighter replied, “Yeah, the water looks really good right now.”

Specifically, Stewart reports:

Ontare Road: Nothing burned.

Santa Teresita Way and Drive: Nothing burned.

Francisco Drive: Nothing burned.

Celine Drive: Nothing burned.

Morada Lane: Nothing burned.

La Lita Lane: Nothing burned.

Corto Camino Ontare: Nothing burned.

Claremont Road: Nothing burned.

Piedmont Road: Nothing burned.

Canyon Acres Drive: Nothing burned.

Northridge Road: Nothing burned.

Barger Canyon Road: Outbuildings gone, no homes burned.

Antone Road: Nothing burned.

Debra Lane: 1450, 1450-B, another home at very end of dirt road in canyon burned.

Earlier this morning, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden also put out a press release about its losses. The garden reports that all classes and tours are currently canceled, and the garden remains closed. Not harmed by the flames are the meadow, discovery garden, teahouse, desert, and most of the redwood exhibits, said Edward Schneider, director. But he reported that the Campbell Bridge, the Pritchett Path, the redwood tree ring exhibit, the oak woodland, and the Porter Path exhibits were either destroyed or heavily damaged. The riparian corridor canyon also took some hits. On Friday, the Botanic Garden also reported that the 1908 Gane House, a lathe house, a deck overlooking Mission Creek, and the director’s residence and garage were also lost.

Said Botanic Garden chairman Fife Symington, “This is, indeed, sad news for the Garden and a sad time for the entire community. However, we know how deeply people in this community care about this beautiful garden and how strong their spirit is. Now is the time for all of us to pull together to not only rebuild the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, but rebuild all that has been lost.”

Nancy Black and Isaac Hernandez, of Mercury Press International, are also listing addresses from Las Canoas Road that they say were clarified by a firefighter in the area. They report that: 2447 (first and second driveways are fine); 1655 (house is fine, cypress trees burned); 1657 (garage burned completely, but house and pool fine); 1661 (back door burned, room with damage, but rest fine); 1667 (burned completely); 1669 (burned completely); 1681 (still standing and fine).

Nick Tonkin reports that 1400 Las Canoas Lane is gone.

UPDATED: Friday, 7 p.m.: Sam Kornell reports that no houses appear to have been lost on El Cielito. Houses either damaged or destroyed on Las Canoas Road include the following addresses: 2300, 2150, 2050, 2018, 2000, 1990, 2233, and 1976. Between 2108 and 2106 Las Canoas Road, Kornell reported that the lower of two houses that share the same small driveway had burned. On Las Canoas Place, he noted only one house that has burned, at 711. No houses were lost on Las Canoas Lane. CORRECTION: 1400 Las Canoas Lane is gone.

And Chris Meagher offers this report: La Vista Road is another testament to the work done by firefighters Thursday night. Every address in the lower part of the road is not only safe, but the yards are hardly scorched, despite Barger Canyon going up in flames Thursday.

Most every home had a fire engine stationed at it to fight off the flames. Craig Ingalls spent the night at his parents’ home on La Vista Road, a home they had lived in for 45 years and where Ingalls grew up. His mother and father evacuated, but he came up to load some more stuff in his pickup. He ended up spending last night, and observed the valiant battle by the firefighters. “They did a good job,” he said. “When the wind switched, that’s when all hell broke loose.”

Bill Parris stayed at his home at 1221 La Vista until the last possible second, watching the firefighting. “It was gnarly,” he said. “There were firefighters everywhere.”

Further up the road, at 1550 La Vista, it wasn’t firefighters, but a group of six men who kept John Price’s home safe. The group, headed down the hill packed in a white Chevy Blazer, were dirty but in good moods on their way to Chuck’s Steakhouse. The fire was “gnarly,” Price said, but the group was equipped with a water pump, and staved off the fire with a lot of hard work, and sweat.

The group seemed to have a good time, or at least were enjoying the result, and were laughing as they considered starting “John Price’s A Fire Team.” “Will work for beer,” Price said.

After saving their home, they made an attempt to save 1556 La Vista Road, but it didn’t happen, as embers had already gotten under the foundation of the stilted property. Behind the home, the hills and canyons were a charred black and white as far as the eye could see.

The home at 1455 La Vista Road was saved, as well as a classic Chevy Corvette. Not making it was a pickup truck.

Smoke could be seen Friday afternoon in Ontare Canyon and also going up Arroyo Canyon, but both fires appeared to be headed up the mountain.

A mix of homes were saved and lost on Barger Canyon Road, although it was impossible to tell the addresses. The road was still largely inaccessible, as firefighters were still working on the narrow street.

Lower La Vista Road was all fine. The upper section is as follows: 1402 safe; 1450, 1450B both gone; 1455 and guest house both safe; 1550 saved; 1556 gone (former KEYT reporter Martha Bull’s house); 1560 saved; 3836 Barger Canyon saved.

PREVIOUS REPORT: As of 1:30 p.m. on Friday, the following is what The Indy‘s team of reporters has been able to put together.

1530 Mission Canyon Rd.

Reporter Sam Kornell, who saved his own family’s home on Williams Way Wednesday night, just traveled the area near Cheltenham Way on bicycle. Despite rumors otherwise and the fact that a couple of long driveways make perfect determinations impossible, Kornell said, “I believe no houses burned on Ben Lomond Drive.” He also reports that no houses burned on Arriba Way or Kenmore Place, and it also appears that Vista Elevada escaped without damage, although long driveways are also a hurdle for some properties on this road. Said Kornell, “I can’t say with 100 percent certainty on any of this, but my belief is that no houses burned on Vista Elevada.”

Over on Palomino Road, there is more damage, with five or six homes gone. Kornell was not able to investigate the road due to ongoing work.

One home burned on Williams Way, and though Kornell could not determine the address, it is the home between 2794 and 2776.

On Montrose Place, four houses and a small cottage were lost. Kornell says that 2625 and 2626 are gone. He could not find the address on the other two homes, but they are the two properties to the northwest of 2660. The cottage is across the street from 2660.

Kornell did not go on Cheltenham Road beneath Kenmore Place. But above Kenmore, no homes were lost on Cheltenham. Also, no homes were lost on Dorking Loop.

One house burned on Edgemound Drive, but the situation is confusing. Kornell said that the address is 1199, but that there is a 1199 Haney and an 1199 Casper. He is not sure which is gone, but describes the burned property as the third house from the very last house on the west side of Edgemound.

Kornell then rode his bike up Tunnel Road, where he was unable to get addresses but said that it appeared numerous homes at the end of long driveways had been burned on the west side of the road.

He made it to Holly Road, which he said was “totally devastated.” About half of the homes are gone, said Kornell, who listed these addresses as burned: 2730, 2745, 2809, the home to the west of 2809 (mailbox gone), 2820, 2850, 2938, 2934, 2921, 2931, and 2600. Another home also burned near the end of Holly Road, but Kornell said it was hard to tell whether it was on Holly, because it came off a different driveway. Kornell had heard that, because Holly Road sits on a ridge, the firefighters were forced to evacuate when surrounded on all sides by fire. One resident, however, stayed through the firestorm, and his house survived even though the homes all around him were gone.

Kornell also reports that, from his vantage point, it appeared the fire was essentially extinguished in the San Roque Canyon area.

Down closer to Foothiil, reporter Ben Preston drove up Antone Road to the end, and discovered that two or three homes are burned, though they may be on Debra Drive because they are behind a private gate. One address was 1450-A, and the other was unclear. On the lower stretch of Antone, everything is fine, save for an outbuilding of some sort. Preston was not allowed up Barger Canyon or La Vista roads.

In the same neighborhood, reporter Ethan Stewart found that Cieneguitas Road and Cocopah Drive were “a-okay,” though the meadows behind the roads in the San Marcos Foothills were entirely scorched. Laurel Canyon Road was also clear, said Stewart, although a home that is being built seemed to sustain some damage.

1503 Mission Canyon Rd.

The fire burned all around Lauro Reservoir and right up to the Cater Water Treatment Plant, singeing the fence, but Stewart said that “all of San Roque Road is cool,” at least up to some private driveways toward the upper end of the road. Stewart was not able to go up Jesusita Lane because of ongoing fire work.

Stewart was also able to check out Ontare Road and Morada Lane, where he reports everything is “real crispy,” but there are no properties lost. There was a private driveway at the end that he couldn’t access, however.

He was also not allowed up Northridge Road, but said that it seemed the fire came closest to Foothill Road just west of there, getting to within 10 yards.

From yesterday’s reporting – and by no means a complete list of saved or lost – we can also add to the list of properties:

Mission Canyon Road

SAVED: 1500, 1501, 1502, 1503, 1505, 1510

San Marcos Pass Road

GONE 1601

Orange Grove Avenue

GONE: 1450, 1455

Tunnel Road

SAVED: 1498, 1470, 1460, 1450, 1427, 1458, 1440, 1444

GONE: 1454

Additionally, a photography Web site called Mercury Press International has a photo gallery of homes saved and lost. Since we are not affiliated, we cannot vouch for accuracy, but the photographs do speak for themselves. See them here.


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