Small fires near Lompoc
LOMPOC — Three small spot fires broke out Thursday afternoon in the middle of the Santa Ynez River near the site of Wednesday’s small fire, authorities said.
The fires were reported at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, totaling approximately a half acre with a slow rate of spread. Thursday’s fire was reported off River Park Road near Lompoc, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Lompoc City Fire Department crews were joined by county fire units, as well as a crew from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The cause of the fires is under investigation.
— Mitchell White
Fire hazards along Highway 101 reduced
GOLETA — The city of Goleta has announced the completion of a two week-long project to reduce fire hazards along Highway 101 between Los Carneros Road and Fairview Avenue.
From July 27 to Aug. 7, Caltrans crews hauled off 10 full 40-cubic yard roll containers and removed more than 60 tons of underbrush. Crews cleared brush, dead vegetation, trimmed trees and pruned remaining tree canopies to clear paths for emergency responders to have access in case of an emergency.
Especially after several homeless encampment associated fires in the area last month, the buildup of dense vegetation, trash and debris has been a concern, according to city officials.
“We are so grateful to Caltrans crews for the hard work they put in the last two weeks to address this important public safety concern,” Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte said in a statement. “While much progress was made, there is still more work that needs to be done. We will continue close coordination efforts with our allied agencies to do everything we can to ensure the safety of the entire community.”
For more information, visit www.cityofgoleta.org or call 805-961-7500.
— Brian Mackley
SMPD to conduct traffic enforcement
SANTA MARIA — The Santa Maria Police Department announced Thursday that they will step up bike and pedestrian enforcement operations through Aug. 25.
The department will focus on collision-causing factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Officers have mapped out locations over the past three years where pedestrian and bike collisions have occurred as a result of violations and will be patrolling these areas, looking for violations made by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians, authorities said.
Officers will be watching for drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and any other violations. Bike riders will be issued citations as well for the same traffic violations. For pedestrians, officers will observe if they cross illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way.
In the past three years, the police department has investigated over 228 injury collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists, with four resulting in fatalities.
This operation is one of five that will focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety in Santa Maria over the next 12 months. The grant provides funding for 56 individual operations for traffic-related issues such as DUI checkpoints, DUI roving saturations, general traffic enforcement, distracted driving, traffic safety presentations and bike or pedestrian operations.
These operations are part of a $260,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
— Grayce McCormick
Person confesses to killing SM tree
SANTA MARIA — The city of Santa Maria issued an update Thursday into an investigation into three trees that were recently found dead after being drilled into and ejected with chemicals.
One person confessed to killing one tree and explained he did not realize it was a regulated tree that required a permit for removal. He paid $425 for a city permit and two replacement trees will be planted at a vacant space or at a park. The party responsible for the other dead tree has not been determined, according to officials.
The city conducted pathology tests, but were unable to determine the substance that killed the trees. The trees, located at 527 W. Main St. and 307 W. Taft St., were a 20-foot tall London Plane, a 15-foot tall Icee Blue Yellowwood, and a Brazilian Pepper Tree. They were discovered by the city’s Park and Urban Forest Supervisor in late June.
“Based on the condition of the trees at the time of assessment and the injuries present (hacks from a small ax, or drill holes), it is believed that the decline and death of the trees were the result of chemical injury,” read a city news release.
According to the city’s contracted certified arborist, there was not enough live tissue remaining to perform a successful analysis to confirm chemical presence, officials said.
— Mitchell White
Local agencies deployed to Lake Fire
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department has sent a five engine strike team, along with a battalion chief, to assist the Los Angeles County Fire Department and U.S. Forest Service with the Lake Fire.
The Santa Maria City Fire Department also sent one engine company to the blaze.
The fire erupted Wednesday afternoon in the Angeles National Forest near Lake Hughes and Prospect roads southwest of Lake Hughes. As of Thursday afternoon, the fire had charred 10,500 acres with no reported containment.
— Mitchell White