A feeling of accomplishment was felt throughout the day by local residents and firefighters alike as burn-out operations, holding crews, and those involved with mop-up completed containment on many flanks. Mop-up is still required in many areas, and additional containment work will be needed in a few areas, but the sense is, with the hard work of the past eight days, the corner has been turned for a majority of the fire. The priority established by the Unified Incident Commanders for containing the west and northwest flank of the fire, closest to the evacuated Tepusquet Canyon Road, paid off today.

La Brea Fire, satellite view provided by the USFS Remote Sensing Applications Center, August 15. This picture was compiled at the USDA Forest Service (USFS) Remote Sensing Applications Center in cooperation with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Maryland, the National Interagency Fire Center, and the USFS Missoula Fire Sciences Lab.

more than 2,000 firefighters are responsible for the diminished threats of the fire moving on the west flank, north flank, and much of the east flank. The increase of acres today was largely due to interior burning, some from the heli-torch operations. The south/southeast flank movement, which is unlined and in the San Rafael Wilderness, was low today. That section is currently positioned in the Water Canyon area, all in the Wilderness, and fire managers are evaluating options for the best course of action in the coming days. The challenge with the southeast portion of the burn in the San Rafael Wilderness is the lack of acceptable ridge lines or solid points to build containment line. Elsewhere, a dozer line was completed at least one blade wide from the bottom of Schoolhouse Canyon up to Sierra Madre Ridge Road.

La Brea perimeter, August 15, 1:45pm

An assessment of the area shows that although the fire burned around the Manzana Historic Schoolhouse, on the Sisquoc River, the structure was saved.

Night Operations Plan: The strongest focus will be on the east side of the fire in the Cuyama Valley in the Schoolhouse Canyon. Elsewhere, crews performing mop-up will continue monitoring the fire’s perimeter, and structure protection will continue.

Cause: Investigators revealed today that La Brea Fire was started by a cooking fire in a marijuana drug trafficking operation. The investigation continues with cooperating agencies including Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara County Fire Department, CalFire, and other local agencies.

La Brea Fire progression map, August 15, 2009

La Brea Fire Tip Line is still open, and anyone with additional information helpful to this ongoing investigation is urged to contact investigators at (805) 686-5074. Your call may remain anonymous.

Evacuations: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff Office and California Incident Management Team 3 are coordinating the change to evacuation advisories, and will evaluate fire conditions over the night before making a final decision. Evacuation Orders are still in effect from the previous days as issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Weather: Humidity levels will be high tonight ranging from 2540 percent across much of the fire, and even higher in low elevation areas of the fire on the west side of the Sierra Madre Ridge. This will help check hot spots that may try to cross the fireline. Fire behavior analysts predict only a 20 percent potential for a spot fire to grow.

Closures: An emergency closure order is in effect for portions of the Los Padres National Forest in and around the fire. For more information, please contact Fire Information at (805) 961-5770 from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. or Inciweb.

Caution: Due to emergency vehicle traffic and congestion on Highway 166, the public is urged to seek an alternate route and to use extra caution when traveling the highway.


Engines: 131

Crews: 59

Dozers: 29

Water Tenders: 54

Helicopters: 14

Fixed Wing: 5


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