Friday, July 11, 2008

Crews close in on containment of Gap Fire


For the second day in a row, firefighters battling the Gap Fire held the blaze within containment zones, a feat officials hope means full-containment is on the horizon.
As of tonight, the fire was 80 percent contained and 9,943 acres had been charred. Officials said about two and a half miles of open fire line remained, and with favorable weather conditions, could be shored up soon.

Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow said the open fire line remaining has been difficult to manage because of steep, rocky terrain.
“It’s nearly impossible work but they’re trying it,” he said. “If they continue to get hand lines built like they have been in the past couple of days it might get buttoned up.”
Fire officials said possible thunderstorms last night and into early today could arrive with increased winds and possibly fan the fire’s growth.
The open fire line is at the northwest end of the blaze near Condor Point. If firefighters are unable to clear a buffer zone around this portion and suffocate the fire, Iskow said a contingency plan exists. It includes burning out a vast area in the upper Tecolote Canyon area, which contains about 2,000 acres of dry fuel, and would be the next to go if the fire resumes its westward march.
If a controlled burn was conducted in this canyon, Iskow said it would likely send a massive plume of smoke into the air reminiscent of last summer’s Zaca Fire.
Eighty-five homes and 60 outbuildings near West Camino Cielo west of Windermere Ranch remained at risk yesterday, according to Rolf Larsen, a public information officer for the Los Padres National Forest. He said residents living in these areas remained under a mandatory evacuation.
All other areas previously under evacuation orders have been downgraded to warning status or cleared altogether.
To date, the blaze has cost $16.1 million to fight and about 1,110 personnel remain assigned to the fire.
Up-to-date evacuation information remains available at

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