[UPDATE 6/17] Late in the day on June 16, Drum Fire containment increased to 100 percent as cool, foggy conditions prevailed and hand crews slogged up and down hills to scrape out remaining embers. The fire footprint was mapped at 696 acres.


Fire season is here. Following the season’s first Red Flag Warning for the South Coast a week ago Sunday and a 135-acre fire on Hollister Ranch the month before, a fire broke out on Sunday off West Highway 246, about four miles away from the City of Buellton.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Santa Barbara County Fire spokesperson Mike Eliason said, but it started on a warm day around noon amid winds gusting to 20 mph at the hilltops. In the rolling terrain, the fire had the potential to rush uphill, and a full complement of fire crews and aircraft responded immediately. An evacuation warning issued early on was raised to an order by 3 p.m., extending to the 101 Highway and north of the 246. About 100 structures were threatened, especially in the Bobcat Springs Road and vineyard areas.

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A marine layer moved in that night and the winds died down; the evacuation order was lifted by 7 p.m. The cooling fog helping firefighters contain the fire to 30 percent by Monday morning. The fire footprint is estimated to be 600 acres, but Eliason said the area’s vineyards — many of which survived the fire — would lower the ultimate acreage affected by the fire. The fire is smoldering in the ravines and folds of land, and firefighters remain on scene, mopping up and watching for any flare-ups.

Eliason said now is the time to get ready for the next fire, and residents can find detailed information at the website readyforwildfire.org. If any resident is ever uncomfortable with the proximity of a fire, he said, “Don’t wait to be told to evacuate. Go ahead and leave. Because as sure as the sun is going to rise, we are going to have another fire.”

At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor.  Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you  in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.

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