Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Wildfire continues to rage


Firefighters continued battling a blaze in the Los Padres National Forest that started on Saturday and scorched 482 acres as of Sunday, down from the estimated 700 acres, authorities said.
Fire officials said crews have the flames 60 percent contained. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which started around 6 p.m. Saturday near Paradise Road about seven miles northwest of Santa Barbara.
“The area of the fire line to the south and west has been contained,” U.S. Forest Service Fire Spokesman Ed Linquist told the Daily Sound. “The area they have had no opportunity to work on, which is still free-burning, is burning back into the backcountry.”

No injuries or damage to structures have been reported, authorities said, and no houses are currently in danger.
Dry brush and winds allowed the fire to spread rapidly on Saturday, officials said.
“Apparently it really ripped last night, because it was so hot and dry,” Linquist said.
Weakened winds and higher humidity slowed the spread of the flames Saturday night, officials said. About 600 firefighters were on the scene as of Sunday, along with 10 engines, 3 bulldozers and two helicopters, Linquist said.
Linquist added that weather forecasts for Sunday had the high temperature in the region of the fire at 86-88 degrees, with winds of 10 to 15 mph out of the west and relative humidity of 25 percent.
“It’s getting into the area that we could see increased fire activity,” Linquist said.
Initially, the blaze moved to the north and east along the Santa Ynez River drainage. Officials evacuated Red Rock and Upper Oso recreational areas, which will remain closed until further notice. Paradise Road is currently closed at the first river crossing after the Los Prietos Ranger Station, Linquist said. Rancho Oso, a private recreational facility near the south edge of the fire, was considered for evacuation, but as the fire moved away, officials decided evacuations were not necessary.
Yesterday, fire officials extended the Red Flag Alert for the southern half of Santa Barbara County until 8 a.m. today, due to warm temperatures, low humidity and higher winds. Burn permits in the affected area are canceled until the warning is lifted.
“The fire department urges residents and those within the Red Flag area to be more aware of activity in their area and immediately report any suspicious observations or concerns to 9-1-1,” Santa Barbara County Fire Spokesman Eli Iskow said. “Any activity in brush areas or areas with vegetation should be done using extreme caution.”
Fire officials also announced a new e-mail alert system for Santa Barbara County residents yesterday. More information can be found at www.sbcfire.com.

No comments: