Monday, July 16, 2007

Evacuations ordered as Zaca Fire moves south


Mandatory evacuations were issued last night for residents living in the Happy Canyon Road area above Baseline Road, after the Zaca Fire diverted from its eastern route, and made a strong run south, where it burned to the top of McKinley Ridge -- the pre approved trigger point for issuing evacuations.
The evacuations arrive after the blaze has romped for the past 14 days in remote, inaccessible territory inside the San Rafael Wilderness and Los Padres National Forest, leaving 23,000 acres of blackened land in its wake
The evacuations, issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, include the communities of Tunnel Ranch, Peachtree Canyon, Rancho De Los Vistadores and the Sedgwick Ranch.

“The Zaca Fire is at McKinley Ridge and is an immediate threat to life and property,” said Kathy Good, pubic affairs officer for the Los Padres National Forest.
Good said an evacuation warning has been issued to residents living east of Figueroa Road, North of Roblar, East of Mora, North of Baseline Avenue and West of Lisgue Canyon (Sedgwick Ranch).
An evacuation center has been established at Santa Ynez High School, where Good said residents living in mandatory evacuation areas, as well those affected by the evacuation warning, can find shelter.
She said the Elk’s Rodeo Grounds in Santa Maria will serve as a pet shelter for large animals, while small animals should remain with their owners.
Good said people evacuating should turn on the lights in their homes, close heavy draperies, evacuate using pre-identified road “escape routes,” obey law enforcement and fire officers and drive calmly.
More than 2,000 firefighters have been busy clearing brush and creating fire lines in the rugged, inaccessible terrain, while a full fledged air assault including 15 helicopters and several tanker planes have bombarded the fire with water and flame retardant material.
These efforts, combined with three days of controlled burns, have been focused on the north west end of the fire and have prevented the blaze from entering the Sisquoc River drainage, where it could become a threat to homes in Tepusquet Canyon.
Due to swift winds Sunday night, the fire, which was then estimated to have consumed more than 18,000 acres, had grown by 4,000 acres on Monday morning.
Good said fire officials weren’t sure last night how close the blaze was to structures, but that McKinley Ridge was the agreed upon “trigger point” to begin evacuations.
As of last night, the fire had racked up a $19.1 million bill. Fire officials say the fire is 37 percent contained, but do not yet have a date estimated for full containment.
The entire 382,000 San Rafael Wilderness has been closed as a result of the fire.

No comments: