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Crews use special tarps to protect centuries-old paintings from Cave Fire

Posted at 1:58 PM, Nov 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-26 17:02:02-05

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (KGTV) -- California State Parks officials worked quickly to protect centuries-old pictographs created inside sandstone caves from being destroyed in the fast-moving Cave Fire.

The Chumash art, created by the Chumash Native Americans between 500 to nearly 1000 years ago, was covered by heat resistant tarps, a California State Parks ranger told KSBY.

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park is one of the few remaining spaces that allow the public open access for viewing the rock art. Efforts to preserve the fragile paintings include prohibiting visitors from using flash photography.

The Cave Fire was first reported Monday afternoon and exploded to over 4,000 acres in less than 24 hours, resulting in several evacuations, road closures, and an Air Quality Warning.

These historic Chumash caves and their art have outlasted numerous fires, including the deadly Painting Cave Fire in 1990, which scorched over 4,000 acres.