Captain Dave Zaniboni with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department had good news Friday morning. The Gibraltar Fire, which began just before dawn Thursday and prompted a massive response from firefighting agencies all around the South Coast, is 50 percent contained and moving toward full containment.
Evacuation warnings for the Montecito neighborhoods below the fire have been lifted, and the amount of resources thrown at the blaze has been “downsized considerably,” said Zaniboni. Overnight, Unified Command had 50 engines on standby in case the fire — 1/2 mile off East Camino Cielo Road, west of Montecito Peak — jumped its lines and started heading downhill. Though winds gusted strongly through the area, that fortunately didn’t happen, he explained.
Road closures along East Camino Cielo and Gibraltar remain in effect due to equipment in the area. Unified Command has been dissolved, Zaniboni said, and the U.S. Forest Service is now in charge of monitoring and mop-up.
The equipment at the incident site currently includes 10 engines, 4 dozers, 4 water tenders, 4 hand crews, and approximately 250 personnel. Seven helicopters and four air tankers remain on standby.
At the peak of the response, more than a dozen helicopters and air tankers, accompanied by 530 personnel, swept back and forth across the fire, dropping thousands of gallons of retardant at its perimeter.
The size of the Gibraltar Fire has been reduced from 60-70 acres to 50 acres, based on improved intel from air resources and field observers, Zaniboni said. No structures were damaged and no injuries have been reported.