Fire Watch

May 14, 2014 8:48 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

San Miguelito fire chases people from homes

Firefighters say the Miguelito Fire has consumed about 600 acres since it started Tuesday afternoon. It started around 1:30 p.m. in the 2500 block of San Miguelito Canyon Road in Lompoc.

It's expected to be 80% contained by around 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night. All evacuations orders have been lifted.

More than 500 firefighters spent the night fighting flames. Mike Held is a firefighter who was off-duty when he saw the flames from his kitchen window. "I got up in the morning and said 'This is a perfect fire weather day. You gotta really watch. This is that kind of day,'" he said.

Mike said he saw it directly over the hill and the smoke was directly over his house. "We knew it was going to burn someday because everything burns eventually," said Held.

With Held's experience as a firefighter, he and his family decided to stay, but his neighbors didn't take any chances.

"It was like a war zone. It was like nighttime during the day," said Christine Rounds. Christine took her photographs, dogs and horses, leaving everything else behind.

"Nothing at that point mattered, as they were dropping water in front of our house, telling us we had to leave. That was it. That's all we grabbed." she said.

Christine returned Wednesday night, but says she'll remain uneasy until the fire is out.

"We could get one really strong wind and it could just take one ember blowing across," said Mike Eliason of Santa Barbara County Fire. "Debris has been falling. Thick ash pockets they have to walk through, and then there's the ever present rattle snakes that are all over the area."

As winds picked up, fire crews had new challenges on their hands, "Trying to snuff out as many hotspots as they can," said Eliason. "We're always hoping for a quick containment, but we're not going to push ourselves. We're going to make sure we're taking care of it safely and methodically, hoping the winds continue to stay low."

Santa Barbara County Fire hopes to have the fire completely contained by Thursday morning. Crews say there hasn't been a fire in this area for at least 10 to 15 years, so that's why the fire spread so quickly. They're still trying to figure out how it started.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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