UPDATE: Whittier Fire grows to 13,199 acres, remains 52% contain - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

UPDATE: Whittier Fire grows to 13,199 acres, remains 52% contained

Posted: Updated:

Friday afternoon UPDATE:

New road closures:

  • Grade crossing at Las Varas Canyon Road
  • Northbound Highway 101 off-ramp at Dos Pueblos Canyon

Road closures already in place:

  • Highway 154 from Highway 246 to Foothill Road
  • Salvar Road at Via Gaitero
  • West Camino Cielo from Refugio Road east to the fire


Friday morning UPDATE:

The Whittier Fire grows to 13,199 Acres, and remains 52-percent contained as of Friday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.


Thursday evening UPDATE:

Containment has passed the halfway mark. The Whittier Fire is 52-percent contained and remains at 12,263 acres, firefighters said during a briefing.

Thursday morning UPDATE:

The Whittier Fire grows to 12,263 acres in size and remains 48-percent contained as of Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Wednesday 9 p.m. UPDATE:

The Whittier Fire remained at 11,920 acres in size with 48-percent containment Wednesday night, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Fire crews say they built direct lines and reinforced dozer lines to protect threatened Southern California Edison power lines.

Firefighters are patrolling the fireline's northern edge for hot spots. Caltrans began assessing how to repair Highway 154.

A containment line has been built on the fire's western edge from Highway 154 to the rock quarry. Crews are reportedly planning indirect firelines around steep canyons to connect fireline to Camino Ridge.

On the Goleta front country, firefighters say ranch roads are being used to establish a fire break above homes and agricultural properties. Firefighters are dealing with hazards including loose rocks, poison oak and steep terrain.

The east and west edges of the fire burned actively late Wednesday afternoon, fire officials say, but weather conditions helped slo the fire's growth.

The Whittier Fire burning near Cachuma Lake in Santa Barbara County grew to 11,920 acres, and containment stayed at 48 percent as of Wednesday morning.

There are now a total of 765 firefighters assigned to the blaze, including 62 Fire Engines, 13 Hand-crews, 8 Dozers, 10 Helicopters, and two water tenders. Fire officials say Fixed-wing tankers will be available from local air bases as needed.

Fire officials say the east side of the fire saw fire growth as the fire backed down into Hot Springs Canyon, and then made a run up the west facing slope of the canyon.

On the west side of the fire, crews plan to put more bulldozers on the line and continue bulldozing on the east side as they have been the last couple of days.

The Los Padres National Forest Service said eight homes and 12 outbuildings had been destroyed and 150 others were threatened. Many of the burned structures were said to be at the campground area and some at the Cachuma Lake boat dock. The fire also burned The Outdoor School at Rancho Alegre

Firefighters are hoping to save homes, buildings, SCE distribution lines, communications infrastructure, and cultural archeological sites.

The blaze was first reported at about 1:40 p.m. Saturday on the south side of Highway 154, but quickly spread to both sides of the road, prompting the immediate closure of the highway from Highway 246 to Foothill Road. Fire officials say it was about 110 degrees in the area at the time. 

About 3,500 people, many from the Cachuma Lake and Camp Whittier areas, were evacuated. About 80 children were trapped for the first few hours, but stayed with authorities and firefighters in a bunker until they could safely escape and be reunited with their parents.

Evacuation orders have been issued for Kinevan Road, West Camino Cielo from the Winchester Gun Club east to Highway 154 and Highway 154 from Armour Ranch Road to Paradise Road. People in that area are advised to leave immediately. 

An evacuation warning remains in effect for Las Varas Canyon to Winchester Canyon and from Highway 101 north to West Camino Cielo. Paradise Road from Highway 154 to the first river crossing also remained under an evacuation warning, and now also Farren Road. Residents in the area are urged to prepare to evacuate if necessary.

In addition to the Highway 154 closure, West Camino Cielo at Refugio Road was closed Monday at the request of the Sheriff's Office. Old San Marcos Road was also closed between Highway 154 and Via Parva. Only residents were being allowed through.

A shelter for Whittier Fire evacuees is set up at San Marcos High School, located at 4750 Hollister Avenue.

People needing assistance evacuating large animals should call (805) 681-4332. Small animals can be taken to the Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Road in Santa Barbara.

The cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.

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