As of 7:52 Monday morning, the good news relating to the Rey Fire, now entering its fifth day, is the wind. As of this writing, Independent writer Ray Ford reports the wind is very light and heading to the northeast and away from the Santa Ynez River, a key line of containment between the 23,000-acre inferno and the South Coast. Ford clarified that the wind won’t stop the fire from consuming backcountry brush and other fuel sources leading in the general direction of the river. It will, he said, slow down the fire’s rate of progress by pushing it back towards areas where it’s already burned.
The bad news is that the terrain is steep and inaccessible. From his lookout perch on Camino Cielo overlooking the Rancho Oso ranch, Ford estimated the Santa Ynez is about four miles walking distance from where the fire is now. For the fire to get to the river, he said, it has to get up and over two major ridge lines and then across Mono Creek, located about 1.5 miles away. Ford stated Mono Creek was a key containment line, and that two dozer crews had been dispatched there already and that another two were on the way. In addition, he said about six engine companies are engaged in preventing that from happening.
Currently, Ford said the fire is approaching Indian Creek along the Camusa-Buckhorn road. He noted that historically, the north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains has only been touched sporadically by front country fires that have managed to get up and over. The import of this, Ford said, is there’s a wealth of fuel on the north side that’s been accumulating for decades.
Shortly before 9 a.m., U.S. Forest Service fire officials reported that crews made significant progress on Sunday, securing the containment line on the western flank of the Rey Fire at Horse Canyon. This location is giving firefighters a secure anchor point from which to work, they said. Crews are also improving the line near Old Man Mountain to the north. Meanwhile, however, the fire continued to move east throughout the night just beyond Little Pine Mountain toward Buckhorn Creek.
Currently, the Rey Fire is 23,546 acres and 20 percent contained; 1,290 fire personnel are fighting it. Officials said the blaze is expected to display “extreme behavior” in dry, combustible fuels, and the public can expect to see smoke and ash in Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Carpinteria as the fire grows east/northeast toward the Dick Smith Wilderness. Crews will be constructing indirect lines on the east side near Mono Creek.
East Camino Cielo Road is closed at the junctions of Painted Cave Road and Gibralter Road. An evacuation order remains in effect for the Paradise Road recreation areas, parts of Stagecoach Road, and the Los Prietos Boys Camp. Paradise Road remains closed. Campgrounds will be closed through the weekend. Highway 154 is open to traffic.