The man who died in the fire below Highway 101 in a culvert on December 5 was identified, and Caltrans announced repairs to the pipe will close an on-ramp for several weeks. City Fire spokesperson Capt. Gary Pitney told The Santa Barbara Independent that Candelario Martinez, a homeless man, was the victim in the fire, which was first noticed around 2 a.m. that morning when smoke began pouring out of a drainage area at Punta Gorda and South Voluntario streets.
The drainage culvert, which had a plastic lining, was damaged by the fire, and Caltrans will be repairing the pipe on an emergency basis beginning this evening at 10 p.m. The repairs will require the closure of the northbound 101 on-ramp at Salinas Street, and of the #3 (or slow) lane between Hot Springs Road and Salinas until the repairs are completed. The work is expected to take four to six weeks and may cause short traffic delays. Cal Portland is the contractor for the project, which will wrap up entirely by early February, weather permitting, at a cost of about $1 million.