The Lake Fire as seen from Santa Ynez Peak on Wednesday afternoon, July 10 | Credit: PG&E

Grown to just shy of 29,000 acres, the Lake Fire is the largest actively burning in California and the largest in Santa Barbara County since 2018’s Thomas Fire. It’s burning in the sparsely inhabited backcountry, which makes evacuation alerts somewhat laborious for the Sheriff’s deputies and Search and Rescue volunteers who go out to knock on every door and make sure residents know to get ready to leave at a second’s notice.

Roughly 450 people have been ordered to evacuate since the fire started on July 5, and another 1,200 residents have been warned to be ready to leave. According to Wednesday morning’s incident report, 1,500 people have evacuated so far due to the fire. New evacuation warnings were added along Cachuma Creek, Alisos Canyon, and Armour Ranch Road early yesterday. The fire was backing down the foothills and was about eight miles from the town of Los Olivos at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley.

The major preparations by more than 2,400 firefighters to defend structures and contain the fire met a Tuesday night that was relatively quiet but hot. Excessive heat warnings continue in the area. Four firefighters suffered minor injuries but quickly received medical attention. The fire continues to grow to the southeast, where crews are looking at trails and forest roads as access and containment lines.

When the winds kick up, embers fly farther into the fine grasses that have grown, explained Daniel Michael, a regional fire planner for the Forest Service. And with the steep canyons and funnels of the San Rafael Mountains, crews working directly on the fire were being careful, posting lookouts, and keeping an eye on which way the flames were likely to run.

For the latest on air quality, evacuations, alerts, roads, and other helpful information, go to

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