March 24, 2015
There are several instances when lighting an outdoor fire is a bad idea, but I think everyone can agree that high wind conditions has to be right there in the top 3. After several days of just such conditions in Santa Barbara county, residents in the Goleta foothills are left scratching their heads as to why a permit was issued for a controlled burn in the first place. With winds holding steady at 13 mph, and gusts in the 25 mph range, the Alert 1 wind advisory the National Weather Service issued seems reason enough to postpone any intentional blazes–indeed, is reason enough, as the agricultural burn started early Tuesday leapt its containment lines as evening fell, and the wind built momentum.
Momentum that even an armchair meteorologist could have predicted given the current weather patterns.
Concerned residents came out in droves as the sun set; on foot, on scooters, and in cars; to converge at the top of Camino Rio Verde—a street in an upscale neighborhood located just west of old San Marcos Road. All too familiar with emergency evacuation from the devastating Gap Fire of 2008, the possibility of mandatory evacuation was the topic on everyone’s lips as a Santa Ynez based aerial firefighter arrived. (a helicopter outfitted with water buckets) As of 10 pm. firefighters are still on the scene, presumably aerial and ground teams, both, though this last is purely speculation, as the Sheriff’s department is keeping mum as to both the size of the blaze; reportedly 1.5 acres at sundown, and its level of containment.