Fire crews protect homes on the southern edge of the Whittier Fi - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Fire crews protect homes on the southern edge of the Whittier Fire

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Mike McMillian Mike McMillian

The southern flank of the Whittier Fire grew overnight so fire crews focused a lot of their efforts there on Saturday. 
Helicopters filled up buckets with water at Edward Dip Site near El Capitan Ranch. On the ground, firefighters focused on protecting dozens of homes-- located just one to two miles away from the flames. 
"This whole area is filled with values that we need to protect," said Mike McMillian, Whittier Fire Public Information Officer.
Las Varas Canyon and the El Capitan Ranch areas are filled with orchards. Fire officials say their priority is to protect the lives of citizens and firefighters and then, property. 
But Saturday, residents can rest assured that there is a strike team in every neighborhood parallel with highway 101. 
"If it becomes necessary, firefighters will burn back toward the main fire to defend these structures, if a house should become involved with fire, these are the right tools for the job," McMillian said.
Hoses were laid around homes and dozer lines, some dozer lines were years old. 
"We are ready for that fire to come our way," McMillian added.
The hoses are ready to be deployed in minutes. From the air, helicopters can drop anywhere between 500 to 1,000 gallons of water at a time. 
Looking ahead, fire officials expect the fire to grow with the steep slopes and fuels being a major factor in that. 
"Some of it hasn't burned since the Refugio Fire of 1955 so give the dry conditions that we have here 100 foot flame lengths are quite common," McMillian concluded.

The management team leading the Whittier Fire efforts is locally based giving them another advantage in this fire fight. 
Fire officials say more burn operations are planned on the southern flank of the fire to neutralize the blaze. 

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