As the Rey Fire continued to spread Saturday afternoon, it traveled both northeast and northwest, making it appear almost as though there were two fires in Santa Barbara County. Fortunately, the 10,000-acre-plus blaze continues to scorch the chaparral and ponderosa pine in the backcountry, where no structures or communities exist. That rural area, though, is habitat for some endangered species, said Fire Services District Ranger “Pancho” Smith at a media briefing on Saturday. Smith said they would resist deploying retardant in such areas but “if we have to put it in there we will.”
Fire authorities expect the winds — currently a low 6 mph out of the west — to pick up later this afternoon. Temperatures are currently in the high 90s with low humidity. The vegetation is extremely dry. The fire is 10 percent contained.
Santa Barbara Independent outdoors reporter Ray Ford said people are going to see a lot of smoke on the eastside of Forest Canyon. “The key item right now is that it is all part of a major burnout to create a buffer so the fire cannot go to the west,” he said. “They are doing an excellent job.”
As many as 600 fire personnel have responded to the incident, and though there are six different wildfires currently burning across California, the Rey Fire is high on the priority list, said a spokesperson at the incident command post.
Ford said he spoke with an employee at Rancho San Fernando Rey, which is made of 32,000 acres. “It’s huge,” he said. The employee estimated about a third of the ranch would ultimately burn; Ford speculated it could be more. The good thing, however, is the charred areas will clear old dried out brush, creating opportunities for growth.
A media briefing will occur at 6 p.m. Saturday evening.