After two days of heavy drama, with the Rey Fire advancing east down the Camuesa Creek drainage, across Indian Creek, and up the steep slopes leading to the Mono Creek area, the fire has settled down into the Pie Creek drainage located between Indian and Mono canyons. Pie Canyon is situated along a jeepway that leads down into Mono Creek just under a mile below the historic Ogilvy Ranch.
While crews were busily wrapping the ranch with fire resistant materials, dozens of other firefighters were brushing out jeep roads throughout the area so that burnout operations might be initiated along them if needed. Meanwhile, the aerial assault continued, with dozens of drops east of the more active parts of the blaze. Fire officials hope to slow it down enough that the crews will be able to contain the fire within the Mono Creek drainage.
Further east on the ridge leading from P-Bar Flat to Hildreth Peak, dozers have been cutting through the brush to create a secondary containment line should the primary line in Mono Creek fail. As a precaution, additional dozers are cutting a third containment line along Pendola Jeepway, which leads from the Pendola Ranger Station at the mouth of Aqua Caliente Canyon to the 6,000-foot ridge near Monte Arido.
While the fire activity is threatening the Mono drainage, it is moving further from Santa Barbara and is showing less potential of reaching the Santa Ynez River. The Pendola Jeepway will play an important role, as it did in the Zaca Fire, in keeping that from happening. Also a good sign was the lack of any smoke activity in the Camuesa Canyon area where the fire earlier had come perilously close to reaching the Santa Ynez River.
Heavy Smoke, Reduced Visibility
With almost no wind to push the fire much of Tuesday, smoke filled the upper Santa Ynez area, limiting visibility to the point it was difficult to determine what actually was occurring in the Pie Canyon and Mono Creek area. However, later in the afternoon, as light east winds began to pick up, it appeared the fire was slowly moving down Pie Canyon and was possibly close to reaching Mono Creek.
Today, east winds are expected to pick up sooner and perhaps be a bit stronger. However, cooling temperatures and possibly slightly higher humidity may help firefighters and reduce the potential for the type of intense fire activity that occurred on Sunday and Monday.
What Could Happen Next
While the secondary and tertiary containment lines are being constructed in the event the fire continues its eastward push into Agua Caliente and Diablo Canyons, noticeably lacking are any opportunities for limiting the spread north up the Mono Creek drainage or, should it reach Agua Caliente Canyon, to the ridge above Monte Arido.
The good news is that the blaze has also reached the Zaca Fire scar, which should help moderate its activity, though given the drought conditions and dry brush, perhaps less so than in other years.
What to watch for today: how quickly the wind begins to pick up and if it pushes the fire more than it did yesterday, what ability firefighters will have to burn-out along the containment lines, and whether the fire continues to push east or if it heads up Mono Canyon.