Santa Barbara County fire authorities report the 44-acre Lookout Fire near Painted Cave is 75 percent contained, but caution that it remains “25 percent out of control,” in the words of public information officer David Sadecki.
He reported that 290 firefighters will be attacking the fire today (Thursday) as well as seven helicopters and three air tankers. Sadecki credited volunteer firefighters from the Painted Cave community for getting a quick jump on the blaze, which started early Wednesday due to downed power lines.
What caused the power lines to fall remains the subject of ongoing investigation. That inquiry was suspended Wednesday at 4 p.m. due to dangerous conditions—the steepness of the terrain, the proximity of fire, and the dropping of water of retardant—and resumed Thursday at 8:30 am.
Sadecki added that county firefighting helicopters were on the fire within 12 minutes and air tankers under the jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service were dropping retardent by 9:30 am.
No homes or properties have been damaged though two firefighters were injured, one from dehydration and another when a dislodged rock rolled down the hill and crashed into a his leg. While Sadecki did not know the exact nature of the injury he said it was sufficient for the individual to be removed in a stretcher.
It’s not uncommon for rocks and boulders to pose a hazard in fires occurring in steep terrain, he said. When vegetation holding rocks in place is consumed by the flames, large objects are put in motion. In the Lookout Fire, Sadecki said, firefighters are likening the effect to that of a “bowling alley.”