And Now For Some (Fingers Crossed) Good News…

I just drove over to the high school and was able to get a good look at the fire area in the foothills.  There’s no more smoke blanketing the crest of the mountain and the area is grey and scorched now.  It looks like a barbecue pit the day after 4th of July.

I did witness an awesome swoop by a helicopter that dropped a massive wall of water across the hillside.  Wish I could’ve taken a photo but it was either drive the van (yes, my big white van) or get photos of the firefighting.  I made the safer choice.  But here’s a neat shot that a reporter at Noozhawk took…

(photo by Lara Cooper/Noozhawk)

To my untrained eye it looks out.  But according to the Forest Service’s InciWeb website the fire is 40% contained.  No estimate for a full containment has been made yet.

So keep your fingers still crossed.

Smoke in the Foothills – Lookout Fire Update

I can hear the low growl overhead of an air tanker as it heads off to the foothills and the fire. It’s 10:40 a.m. and people are at work now, everyone is doing their job, including the fire personnel. We’re getting on with our day, but with eyes nervously still scanning the hills, sizing up the smoke, watching the trees outside for any sign of wind.

So far, the air is still, and that’s good. This fire is slow-moving (at 75 acres burned) and that gives the helicopters and air tankers time to travel from Santa Maria, one hour north, to where they are needed, here in our own backyard.

We are trying to get on with our day. But history has taught us to be vigilant, not to be complacent with the beautiful weather outside our doors. That weather – so hot and dry – makes this fire season. So we nervously check the internet sites – Noozhawk or Edhat – because our local television station is slower, and can’t pre-empt those oh-so important national talk shows and commercials. When Edhat crashes because its server can’t handle the traffic we feel that first wave of nerves, of being cut off from what’s happening and if the danger is spreading.

Edhat is our eyes and ears on the scene here in SB. If you lose a dog you can go on and report it and probably see a listing already announcing, “Lost Dog found across the street from Bob’s Vacuums.” Edhat makes this community of 90,000 feel like a small town again. And for too many minutes this morning it was quiet and unreachable. Now it’s back up again, the air tanker is here as well as the helicopter that drops its coolants – water from Lake Cachuma.  And all we can do is hope and pray the wind stays down until the flames are out.

That’s our real job for today.

Wildfire in Santa Barbara Foothills

We’re on Fire Alert here in Santa Barbara.

A fire broke out this morning in the Painted Cave area in the foothills above Santa Barbara.  Evacuations are taking place, Reverse 911 calls are going out, and the Search & Rescue unit of the SB Sheriff’s Department is going door-to-door to evacuate people.

We have a history with fires in our community.  The Jesusita Fire in 2009 burned 8,733 acres and 80 homes, the Goleta Gap Fire burned over 2800 acres in 2008, and Montecito’s Tea Fire, also in 2008, burned 200 homes.  Painted Cave was the starting point for the devastating Painted Cave Fire in 1990 that destroyed 600 homes, and today’s fire is located in the same area –  off the 154, in the Painted Cave area, and a quarter of a mile from the Lotus Retreat.

Everyone is vigilant at this time of the year – when the weather turns hot and dry, and the sundowner winds kick up at the end of the day.  Today’s fire broke out around 8:00 a.m. and by 8:40 they have already named it “Lookout Fire.”  It’s never a good sign when they name these incidents.

I’ll post more information as I learn about it.