WeatherFire Watch


Does rain mean fire season is over? Experts say, "no"

Posted at 6:49 PM, Nov 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-03 22:49:58-04

As a result of colder temperatures and recent rain and snowfall across California, people may be wondering if this year's fire season is coming to an end. But due to ongoing strong winds and drought conditions, experts tell us we're still not in the clear.

"I want people to be vigilant as we go into the end of the year here. That with the lack of rain, increased sundowner winds, fire can move quite fast," explained Capt. Scott Safechuck, Santa Barbara County Fire Department Public Information Officer.

On Thursday, Capt. Safechuck pointed out the many eucalyptus trees and other vegetation that caught fire during the Ward Fire in Goleta. By Thursday afternoon, the blaze had grown to just over nine acres and was 75% contained.

KSBY News Chief Meteorologist Dave Hovde also says the lack of significant rainfall on the Central Coast continues the risk of future wildfires.

"We just got a little bit of rain, but what we really need is something more substantial, looking on the order of a one-inch kind of event which we actually have in the forecast for next week," Hovde said.

He adds that while areas in Northern California have seen higher levels of precipitation, the Central Coast is still waiting for its big downpour and that will be a clear sign to quell our fire concerns.

"When things start to green up in the hills, that is the barometer, essentially, for how we are doing and it is when we can start to ease off on some of our concerns," he added.

Capt. Safechuck takes a similar stance, saying that he, along with the more than 80 firefighters who responded to the blaze in Goleta, are looking forward to the next dousing of rain.

"We have been in drought conditions for quite some time now, and it stresses the trees, it stresses the vegetation where it can consume and contribute to the spread of fire much easier," Safechuck said. "We are always waiting on a good amount of rain to soften that."

But in spite of little local rainfall, Safechuck says our region saw fewer fires during the peak summer months than we have observed in previous years.

"I think that we have been fairly fortunate in the fact that we didn't have a lot of in-county fires that were wind-driven and front country. But it doesn't mean that we are out of the woods here from having another fire," he said.

A Santa Barbara man was arrested on suspicion of starting the Ward Fire. The exact cause of the fire has not yet been released.