Firefighters finally put a lid on the Whittier Fire this weekend. All evacuation warnings have been lifted, and the fire has not grown for the past few days, according to the fire’s InciWeb page. Containment is at 87 percent, and the last size analysis put the fire at 18,430 acres.
Firefighters had their last night shift on Saturday. Officials decided the need was over for a 24-hour operation and are now tying up loose ends during daylight. Currently 806 personnel are on the fire, a drop of more than 1,000 compared to last week, when firefighters worried about incoming sundowner winds and Goleta residents fretted that the fire might reach the city.
But the winds that arrived did not pack the full punch that concerned officials. As the week went by, the fire’s size remained steady and containment gradually increased. The marine layer provided a defense against the fire’s encroachment. The daily briefings began to take a more lighthearted edge, with actor Billy Baldwin making a special guest appearance during Tuesday’s briefing to thank everyone for their work.
As the fire sizzles out, personnel will continue to decrease in the next days. Full containment is expected by the end of this month, according to County Fire’s public information office.
Firefighters are still active in the area, and the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team will start to assess the damage this week.
West Camino Cielo Road from Refugio Road to the Winchester Gun Club is still closed.
While some areas within the fire’s perimeter are still smoldering, officials are calling these sections “smokers” given that there is no fire involved. Firefighters assured the public that they are within the containment perimeter and do not pose a current threat.
The current price tag on the fire is estimated to be $34.2 million.
The fire began on July 8 at Camp Whittier next to Cachuma Lake. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.