A blaze firefighters are calling the Alisal Fire burned an estimated 2,000 acres by 9 p.m. Monday. It originated just north of Alisal Lake, west of Goleta, and made one mile leaps toward the ocean.
(Acreage estimates may change this morning pending better visuals, according to Los Padres National Forest spokesperson Andrew Madsen.)
As of press time, the fire was 0% contained, and 100 structures were threatened.
Firefighters battled 40 mph winds and 60 mph gusts along with the flames.
Crews are blocking off the fire using natural fuel breaks. Firefighters have breaks on three sides, Mr. Madsen said.
If the fire extends into Goleta, it will hit the Sherpa Fire burn scar, he said. The vegetation will not provide adequate fuel for the fire, and firefighters can attack there.
The fire was initially spotted around 2 p.m. Initial estimates measured the fire at 50-100 acres with potential for much more.
By 4 p.m., evacuations were ordered for an area covering more than 30 square miles — extending from the peak to the ocean.
A portion of Highway 101 and the railroad closed after spot fires began to reach the highway around 5:30 p.m.
The evacuation orders affected the areas of Refugio, Tajiguas, Arroyo Quemada and Arroyo Hondo by dinnertime. Later Monday evening, evacuations were extended to El Capitán Beach State Park and El Capitán Campground, with the order including the area east of the state park, west of Dos Pueblos Canyon Road and south of West Camino Cielo Road as of press time.
The chaparral in the area was thick — an area that hasn’t burned for decades. Fire crews initially struggled to find a point of attack in the thick brush.
“Los Padres is probably one of the national forests with the fewest roads,” Mr. Madsen said. “So we can’t drive right up with our equipment to drop firefighters off and work the fire that way. Then of course with these gusts of wind up to 60 miles an hour, you’re not going to put firefighters in the front of that.”
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Santa Barbara City Fire Department and the Montecito Fire Protection District sent assistance.
Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta served as a temporary information site for evacuees. Livestock were transported to the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara.
The temperature at the weather station nearest the fire measured 65 degrees and 30% humidity.