Santa Barbara Roasted over Labor Day

Three Firefighters Suffer Injuries During Dolan Fire Burnover This Morning

The smoke from California wildfires obscures the Labor Day sunrise as seen in Santa Barbara, which saw triple-digit temps this weekend. | Credit: Mike Eliason/S.B. County Fire

A very toasty Labor Day weekend registered some incredible temperatures, especially on Sunday, which was a record-setter across Southern California, and high winds propelled several fires, including the Dolan Fire in the northern region of the Los Padres National Forest. It flared up this morning in the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road area near Big Sur, burning the fire station completely to the ground and forcing 14 firefighters to take to their fire shelters. Three were airlifted to a hospital in Fresno, with one in critical condition and two in fair shape, said Andrew Madsen, a spokesperson for Los Padres. Over the course of the day, the fire rapidly grew from 40,000 to 73,000 acres.

The fire weather has been most severe in inland areas, as indicated by the rescues of about 400 people since Sunday from recreational areas in the path of the Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest. Eight national forests have been closed by authorities, who are evaluating the closure every day on the basis of weather conditions. Signs warning hikers and campers of the dangers have been posted, said Madsen, and forest personnel are driving along trails and dirt roads to try to reach people who are already backpacking and camping in those forests, which are Los Padres, Sierra, Stanislaus, Sequoia, Inyo, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland. The use of gas stoves, campfires, or any other potential ignition source is now prohibited in all the national forests in California, and all federal developed campgrounds and day-use sites have been closed.

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The unbearable heat that descended on Santa Barbara and the rest of Southern California started on Saturday and continued through the night, hitting 102 degrees on the San Marcos Pass at 3 a.m. on Sunday, subsiding to a relatively cool 98 degrees at six o’clock in the morning before rising into triple digits again once the sun rose. 

Westlake Village was the southland’s official record-setter, peaking at 121 degrees on Sunday over its previous 2006 record of 119, the hottest at any National Weather Service monitor. That was surpassed by Solvang, however, which hit 122 degrees unofficially.

The foothills topped 110 degrees across Santa Barbara’s south coast, which was under a fire warning for dry, gusty winds from Saturday evening through Monday night. The heat got to be too much for a hiker in Montecito late Sunday afternoon, who was brought down safely off the San Ysidro Trail by the county’s Search and Rescue squad and Montecito firefighters. A vegetation fire in Lompoc’s Miguelito Creek area Monday afternoon was fortunately the county’s only reported fire this weekend, knocked down at 20 acres after a full-court press with hand crews and a water-dropping helicopter. Many residents called 9-1-1 that morning because of the smoky haze in the air; it was drifting in from fires to the south, said Eric Boldt with the National Weather Service, possibly the El Dorado or Bobcat fires.

The sizzling holiday was followed by cool fog along the coast and temperatures in the 80s in the Santa Ynez Valley. The haze that remains in the air is likely from Northern and Central California fires, Boldt said. He noted that SoCal’s worst heat can occur in September and October when the seasonal hot winds blow, so the 100-degree temperatures may not be entirely behind us. 

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