Under the glow of the red moon, reporter Gretchen Wenner is watching the fire activity around Painted Cave with Craig Konklin, a battalion chief from Tuolumne County, who is in charge of the fire line from Painted Cave to Hwy. 154.
Konklin and his crew-which consists of four hand crews (with four more on the way) and 15 engines-are battling the northwest flank of the Jesusita Fire. Up on the ridge, there are 70- to 80-foot flames shooting skyward, but those don’t concern Konklin. He’s worried about the spot fires on the canyon wall across from Painted Cave. The spot fires, which aren’t visible from downtown Santa Barbara, would be the priority if there weren’t homes at risk in other areas, Konklin said.
The spot fires are troubling because if weather patterns change and big winds come up, they could quickly threaten homes on Painted Cave. Fortunately, the winds are working in their favor at the moment. And if the good luck continues, Konklin believes his crew can keep the flames under control until reinforcements arrive tomorrow, at which point they’ll be able to “stomp them out.”