VENTURA — A vegetation fire broke out Sunday morning on the eastern portion of Santa Cruz Island within the Channel Islands National Park, charring an estimated 450 acres, authorities said.
The Scorpion Fire was reported at 10:30 a.m. Sunday by a construction crew building a new pier on the island. Initially estimated to be around five acres, the blaze grew to 60 acres within four hours and quickly expanded east toward the landing area at Scorpion Valley on the island, said Yvonne Menard, spokeswoman for the national park.
The initial response included a 20-person hand crew from the U.S. Forest Service, which was followed by a significant air attack. A C130 tanker from McClellan Air Force Base, two CalFire 1,000 gallon air tankers out of Paso Robles and a helicopter from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department assisted ground crews. The fire was considered 40% contained as of Sunday evening, Ms. Menard said.
An additional crew of 21 wildland Santa Barbara County firefighters were dispatched to the island Sunday night. A third 20-person crew was ordered, as well as another Forest Service helicopter, with both units expected to be on scene this morning.
“The National Park Service is working with United States Forest to contain the fire on Santa Cruz Island,” Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley said in a news release. “Firefighting on an island can be challenging, but we have been able to quickly mobilize our initial response.”
The park’s mainland visitor center, at the Ventura Harbor, has been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The five islands did remain open to public visitation, though access has only been available via private vessel.
Island Packers, which provides transportation services to the islands, suspended it’s services around the same time and was scheduled to reopen today for trips to both Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands. Trips to Anacapa Island are slated to begin Friday, according to officials.
No structures were damaged or were threatened and no injuries were reported. The ignition source for the fire is yet to be determined.