Fire officials expect to reach full containment today
Crews working the Alisal Fire achieved 97% containment as of press time Tuesday, gaining control of the fire that has burned for more than a week and charred around 17,281 acres.
On Tuesday, about 969 personnel assigned to the fire prioritized securing a few remaining hot spots in Arroyo Hondo on the west side of the fire and in the Sherpa Fire burn scar to the east. According to the incident command webpage for the fire, crews have been able to keep the blaze within its current footprint.
Over the next two days, minimal fire activity is expected, though there is “some potential for moderate activity in isolated pockets where hold-over heat exists,” according to incident command.
Los Padres National Forest officials said Tuesday they expect the fire to be 100% contained by the end of the day today, according to a news release. With the fire coming under control, the Type 1 Incident Management Team will hand over incident control to a local unit at the end of today’s shift, the news release said.
The fire, which began last Monday near Alisal Lake, currently costs about $19.5 million, Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. He noted that last week’s acquisition of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant will help to cover 75% of expenses.
The chief also updated the board with the latest fire stats, sharing that a total of 939 people were evacuated due to the fire, 439 residences were threatened, and 10 residences and two outbuildings were destroyed. The fire did not cause any fatalities, he noted.
Looking ahead, Chief Hartwig said officials are concerned about the potential for flooding or a debris flow in the aftermath of the fire. He told the Board of Supervisors that a Burned Area Emergency Response Team is on-site, as well as a Water Emergency Response Team from the state.
“This watershed is larger than the watershed affected (by) the Sherpa Fire, or every bit as large,” Chief Hartwig said Tuesday. “We do expect some of the same concerns or flooding issues in the Refugio Canyon area following the fire.”
During his presentation, Chief Hartwig also shared the heroic efforts of Guadalupe Public Safety Director Michael Cash, who stopped to help an injured big rig truck driver as he was driving down the fire-surrounded Highway 101 on the evening of Oct. 11. Chief Hartwig told Supervisors that Mr. Cash transported the truck driver, who had suffered a head injury, to the hospital for treatment in his police cruiser.
The chief reported that the injured driver is expected to make a full recovery. The big rig truck and its contents were destroyed in the fire.
In addition to the update from Chief Hartwig, Supervisors also heard a brief presentation from Public Works Director Scott McGolpin on the damage sustained at the Tajiguas Landfill.
Mr. McGolpin recalled how the fire “raced into the canyon” at Tajiguas, causing damage to the landfill’s slopes, the biofilter, the green waste/mulch pipe and the landfill gas system. The Public Works Director noted the “heroic effort” by fire crews to protect the $150 million Material Recovery Facility and put out fires surrounding the landfill.
Mr. McGolpin told Supervisors that some slope stability issues will need to be addressed at the landfill, and added that for the time being, trash will be hauled to facilities in Ventura.
The Air Pollution Control District of Santa Barbara County is forecasting “good” air quality for all areas of the county during the rest of the week as fire crews work to achieve full containment. For the latest updates on air quality, visit ourair.org/todays-air-quality.