Progress made in fighting five-day blaze, which has burned over 17,000 acres
The Alisal Fire burned 17,200 acres as of Saturday morning and was 50% contained, up from 41% Friday evening.
Crews on Friday continued to battle the blaze that fire officials say is largely wind-driven. Los Padres National Forest officials reported Friday afternoon that the fire area “did not get good recovery” overnight and officials saw an increase in activity and smoke production during the day.
The evacuation order for residences along Arroyo Quemada Lane and the evacuation warning for the area east of El Capitan Beach Park, west of Dos Pueblos Canyon Road and south of West Camino Cielo were canceled Friday evening.
The evacuation order remained in effect for Arroyo Hondo Canyon, Refugio Canyon, and the area between El Capitan Beach State Park and West Camino Cielo as of press time Friday. The evacuation warning was still in effect for the area west of Highway 101, which includes Gaviota Beach and Hollister Ranch.
More than 1,700 personnel assigned to the fire worked to secure its eastern edge near the Sherpa Fire burn scar on Friday, while also addressing the western portion of the fire near the Cañada San Onofre. Crews battled winds of up to 20 mph throughout the day Friday, and officials anticipate that warmer temperatures, decreased humidity and downsloping winds could impact fire behavior and activity over the next few days.
Officials continued to attack the fire from the air on Friday, deploying 20 aircraft spraying flame retardant and water in conjunction with ground resources, according to Kristen Allison, a public information officer for the California Interagency Incident Management Team 1.
She explained that the use of aircraft “played a huge role” in slowing the spread of the fire so that ground crews could get in and put the line in.
“We had a perfect day (Thursday) with the right amount of resources at the right place and right time,” Ms. Allison told the News-Press on Friday.
Wind remains a primary source of the fire’s growth, and gusts of up to 40 mph hindered the use of fixed-wing flyers on Monday and Tuesday.
Calmer wind speeds made it possible to use aerial resources in the latter half of this week, and Ms. Allison said that the next two days will be “pivotal” for battling winds and reaching higher levels of containment.
Nearly 440 structures were threatened by the blaze on Friday, according to the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.
As of Friday, a total of three residences and two minor structures were destroyed, officials reported. The location of the structures was not available on Friday.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department downgraded its Air Quality Alert to an Air Quality Watch Friday afternoon, which applied to the entire county and the Channel Islands. In a news release, the department said ash and smoke from the Alisal Fire “still have the potential to affect air quality, but any impacts are not expected to be as significant as they were earlier this week.”
To stay up to date on the latest air quality conditions, visit the Air Pollution Control District website at ourair.org/todays-air-quality or check the EPA Fire and Smoke Map at fire.airnow.gov.
The reopening of Highway 101 on Thursday evening relieved congestion on State Route 154 Friday, Dylan Youngblood, an officer with CHP Santa Barbara, told the News-Press. The officer said CHP is asking motorists to “remain vigilant” and be aware that emergency units are in the area around Gaviota because the fire is still active.
Mr. Youngblood said officers have noticed several drivers pulling over to the shoulder of Highway 101 to observe the fire and burn scar, and he said CHP is cautioning against this.
“As much as we are allowing the freeway to be open, the public just needs to be aware that in the event that we need to use the large shoulder to stage emergency vehicles, we would recommend that they not do that,” Mr. Youngblood said.
The American Red Cross continues to support evacuees with shelter at Dos Pueblos High School upper parking lot located at 7266 Alameda Ave. in Goleta.
To stay up to date on evacuation notices and road closures, visit readysbc.org/alisal-fire.