As the Alisal Fire reaches its fifth day, the 1,731 fire personnel fighting the 16,901-acre wildfire are gaining some ground with containment, which is at 41 percent as of 8 a.m. — up from 5 percent containment the last couple of days. Meanwhile, there has been a smooth transition to Unified Command with the California Interagency Incident Management Team (CIIMT), which has set up shop temporarily at Earl Warren Showgrounds.
Winds have calmed since earlier in the week, when gusty conditions grounded air support, and are expected to stay below 10-15 miles per hour headed into the weekend. The potential for strong northern and easterly winds and projected temperatures in the mid- to upper 80s could make things difficult, but incident management is estimating that the fire will be fully contained by October 25.
Yesterday saw cooperative winds, a series of DC-10 tanker drops, and the reopening of Highway 101, Union Pacific, and Amtrak lines.
“Please drive carefully and know that fire resources are still operating in the area,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department Public Information Officer Mike Eliason wrote on Twitter. “Please watch the road, not the burn scar. We thank you very much for your patience.”
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Of the 439 structures threatened, three residences and two outbuildings have been destroyed, Eliason said, and fire retardant was dropped along the western flank in hopes of cutting off the westward spread.
The majority of growth was located on the western flank toward Gaviota, according to incident management, and teams are using active torching, flanking, and backing to try to create a border.
The overall strategy at this point is to minimize the fire size and protect residences and infrastructure, as well as historic and cultural resources in the area. There is some potential for growth over the next 48 hours, with chaparral, shortgrass, and hardwood litter fueling the fire, and the projected northeastern winds that could be in the area.
Evacuation orders and warnings remain in place with no changes, and an air quality watch is still in effect for Santa Barbara county. High school athletics has been affected, with games canceled or moved to locations in Ventura County, where air quality is less affected.
For up-to-date info, check the CIIMT incident update page here.
Find all our updates on the Alisal Fire here.