Mop-up crews at Vandenberg Air Force Base are toiling in the smoldering wake of four separate wildfires that burned roughly 13,000 acres. As of midday Tuesday, base officials on the 99,000-acre federal property confirmed rapid and full containment of the three smaller blazes — the Washington, Oak Canyon, and Corral fires — while the initial and biggest of the bunch, the Canyon Fire, which started on September 17 and burned for 10 days, produced 12,742 acres of scorched earth along the rugged South Base region. No structures were lost. Federal officials have estimated the suppression cost of the Canyon Fire at more than $12 million. One firefighter, Ryan Osler, 38, with the Ventura County Fire Department, died in a rollover crash on September 21 en route to the Canyon Fire in a 2,000-gallon water tender. The driver of the tender survived the crash with minor injuries, according to a department spokesman. The driver’s name has not been released, and the accident is under investigation.
Investigations continue, as well, on the causes of the wildfires, though initial communications on the Washington Fire reported that a downed power line sparked the 224-acre wind-driven blaze, which burned September 22-24. On September 23, the 30-acre Oak Canyon Fire sparked to life near Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc. It was fully contained the next day. As noontime temperatures hovered around 100 degrees on Monday, September 26, the base’s fourth wildfire in 10 days, the Corral Fire, erupted in drought-stricken vegetation, roasting four acres before firefighting crews got a handle on it.