Fire crews protect Cold Spring Tavern from Whittier Fire - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Fire crews protect Cold Spring Tavern from Whittier Fire

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Fire crews are working to protect the historic Cold Spring Tavern from the Whittier Fire. 

Officials say the blaze was nearly two miles west of the tavern on Sunday. 

When you visit Cold Spring Tavern, it's like traveling back in time. Located off Highway 154 on Stagecoach Road, the tavern's roots go deep. It first opened as a stagecoach stop in 1886. Travelers changed their horses and rested their heads. 

It's since transitioned into an operating restaurant and place of entertainment. 

Now, it's a site being protected by firefighters.

"The idea of doing structure protection is being able to protect these structures even if the firefighters have to leave," Whittier Fire Public Information Officer Jay Nichols said.

On Sunday, firefighters tested newly installed sprinklers, a precaution, in case the flames get near.

"We were looking at the fire as it came into Bear Creek and realized that if in fact the fire came over the ridge that this would be in serious jeopardy," Whittier Fire Strike Team Leader Jim McCoy said. 

Sunday morning, crews did back burn operations on the eastern edge of the fire to try to prevent it advancing through Bear Creek.

McCoy, battalion chief of Santa Barbara City Fire, helped build the sprinkler system. 

"Hopefully as the fire comes through the place gets wet enough and gives the place a chance to survive," McCoy added.

A crew will determine if it's necessary to turn on the pump and get the sprinklers going. The water is delivered by water tenders from Cachuma Lake and stored in what fire officials call pumpkins.

"We have three pumpkins each at 1,800 gallons, there are 25 sprinkler heads it should run for sustained well over probably two hours with the flow to support this structure," U.S. Forest Service Battalion Chief Jesse Brunk said.

This system is used in remote areas.

"It gives us a high probability of success in here when we add the water not only to the structure but the surrounding vegetation," Brunk said.

It's an area that will be monitored as long as the fire threat exists, and now protected for the possible fight ahead. 

According to the Tavern's Facebook, this isn't its first run-in with fire; it survived the Zaca Fire back in 2007. 

The tavern will be closed until fire officials say it's safe for staff and customers to return. 

Even though Highway 154 is open, fire officials want the public to keep in mind that side roads are still closed including Stagecoach Road where the tavern is located.

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