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Santa Barbara County “White” Fire over 1,800 acres, only 10% contained

The “White” fire burning in the Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara County had consumed 1,800 acres by 10 this morning and remains only 10% contained. The fire is burning in an easterly direction, along the Santa Ynes River according to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management. A wind warning was issued for Santa Barbara County, through early Wednesday morning, by the National Weather Service with winds between 20 and 30 mph and gusts of 45 to 65 mph. The air pollution control district for Santa Barbara County has issued an air quality warning, asking residents to “limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when smoke is in the area.”

The White fire started at about 2:45 pm Monday in the White Rock Day Use area, according to the Forest Service, and more than 55o firefighters from the Forest Service, the county, and area cities are fighting the blaze. Although no injuries have been reported, as many as 6,000 people have been evacuated, according to Kelly Hoover, a public information officer at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. U.S. News and World Report says:

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a Thursday letter urging caution ahead of the holiday weekend that “[w]ith one of the driest winters on record, officials have already seen a drastic increase in fires.” “In an average year, by late May CAL FIRE responds to approximately 850 wildfires,” the letter said. “Already this year, CAL FIRE has responded to nearly 1,600 wildfires; that number is up 50 [percent] from last year at this time, when there were just under 1,050 wildfires.”

Note added May 29, 2013, 10:43 PM Pacific Daylight Time: The following update was posted on InciWeb:

The White Fire started Monday, May 27, 2013 at approximately 2:45 pm. Currently the fire has burned 1,984 acres. The reason for the increase in acreage is due to more accurate mapping. One residence was damaged. The fire is 90% contained. Today we had 12 helicopters conducting aerial attack. The fire went through Sage Hill Campground but the damage is still unknown. The fire also went through the Forest Service compound and damaged one building and one privately owned vehicle and destroyed another.

As of 6:00 pm yesterday, residence were allowed to return to their homes. The road closure will remain in place except to residence returning to their homes and showing proof of residency.

As of today, the cost of the fire is estimated at $1.5 million.

Cooperating agencies include: US Forest Service, Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara City, Carpinteria/Summerland Fire, Montecito Fire, Lompoc Fire, Santa Maria City Fire, Chumash Fire, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue, California Highway Patrol and the American Red Cross.

Resources currently assigned to the fire include: 24 crews, 61 engines, 10 dozers, 15 water tenders, and 216 overhead.

-Bill at

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