The approximately 1,000 inmates now behind bars at the Santa Barbara County Jail, located just off Turnpike Road in Goleta, will not be evacuated despite the fact that the County Jail is located squarely within the emergency zone ordered to evacuate late Thursday night. “The jail is actually one of the safer places to be,” said Sheriff’s spokesperson Drew Sugars. “The jail was built to withstand a fire; it’s a really protected structure. And it has a large amount of defensible space around it.”

But the county’s Emergency Operation Center, located just down the road from the County Jail, has moved, and the county Health Department – also located in the same general complex – shut down completely for Friday. Those who need to be seen Friday have been advised to seek medical care at the Franklin Clinic on Santa Barbara’s Eastside of Santa Barbara or at the Carpinteria Clinic, on Walnut Lane in Carpinteria.

The Emergency Operations Center (OEC) serves as the central command from which information is gathered, coordinated, and distributed during times of natural and unnatural catastrophes. For the media, the EOC has provided a centralized source of officially designated and sanctioned news and information. But because of the declaration late Thursday night that all persons, businesses, and entities located east of Patterson Avenue and north of State Street need to evacuate, even the EOC had to move. The EOC transferred its operations temporarily to UCSB, a move that took from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. to complete. During that time, members of the media could not communicate with the EOC. But the county’s public safety agencies – the Fire Department and Sheriff’s office – were in communication via Blackberry and cell phone.

Cottage Hospital Relatively Quiet

Despite the frequent wail of emergency vehicle sirens, Cottage Hospital’s emergency room has been relatively quiet in the wake of the Jesusita Fire. In the first days of the fire, hospital spokesperson Janet O’Neil reported there were only 19 emergency room visits, 12 of which were from firefighters. Only one had injuries that were so serious – smoke inhalation – he needed to be admitted; the rest were treated and released. In the two days since, O’Neil said the hospital had seen less than a half-dozen fire-related emergency room visits. Most of those, she said, related to breathing problems caused by the dust and smoke. “It seems to running along as normal,” said O’Neil. “But we are prepared if things should get worse.”

O’Neil said at least 150 Cottage employees had been evacuated. Employees have used the hospital’s internal Internet function as a bulletin board to match employees who’ve been evacuated to those willing to make room in their homes. O’Neil herself was evacuated around 2 a.m. Friday morning.


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