Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, July 09, 2007

Zaca Wildland Fire

Over the last few days I've been a bit shell shocked by the news of the fire and feel remiss in not offering a place to post your thoughts on what is turning out to be a quite serious incident. With reports of a helicopter crashing, I've got my tail between my legs and feel like I've had my head in the sand.

I've been reviewing InciWeb's no frills, very firefighter-like account of what is going on in the San Rafael wilderness and towards the Sisquoc River. These are beautiful areas that deserve a lot more coverage than what I and others have failed to give it...I wonder if the fire had started closer to human structures if the media and common people like myself would have taken more decisive action sooner to let others know of the danger and the damage. This is not to say the media hasn't covered the fire -- but what cuts through our consciousness and wakes us up to what is going on?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, Thank you for mentioning this fire. It has been raging for 6 days now with no mention here.

I live in SYV & it seems as if nobody in SB is aware or understands the impact of this fire. Perhaps because they think it does not threaten their lives. They are wrong.

True, it does not threaten the city (which this blog is largely concerned with) or many homes right now.

It does threaten some very historic structures, not to mention the wildlife in the backcountry.

Dick Smith (Dick Smith wilderness, NP journalist, environmentalist etc) when he was alive, educated the residents of SB County about the importance of this backcountry.

This is our county's watershed. Why aren't more people educated about or educating others about this? Indeed, we all should be more aware & concerned.

7/10/2007 1:23 AM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

Sara, I am alway amazed at this earths beauty.. Santa Barbara is known for it's beauty but I often laugh at the hype because whereever I go I see this incredible planet and its diverse geographies and terrains as equally beautiful. The exceptions of course where we humans screw it up. This fire is hugh and a big deal. Our press is dead and the press is like our government if it doesn't serve our individual needs us we don't bother...Stick Around Sports is Next.

7/10/2007 6:24 AM  
Anonymous Ray Ford said...

Check the coverage at the Independent online.

7/10/2007 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I've been so busy I didn't realize there was a fire buring over the hill.

7/10/2007 8:48 AM  
Blogger Voice of Rezon(e) said...


(sorry in advance for the long post)


I check in with BlogaBarbara a few times a week, and participate far less than I used to. For me, I have been disappointed by the topics for quite some time. I feel overwhelmed by the focus on the NP Mess.

I am certain I am not alone in this. I think the majority of the community truly "gets it" about what a disaster Wendy, the Baron and Travis caused for the community as well as the individual journalists and other former NP employees (and their families). But...I also think the community has moved on by embracing edhat, SB Newsroom and The Daily Sound as legitimate sources for local news. I'm not saying we shouldn't continue to follow major developments regarding the NP but so much focus has only empowered Wendy and gang. As I've said before if we truly ignore/boycott reading the rag, and communicate our dissatisfaction to the remaining advertisers we've done our job as a community.

Regarding your "lack of coverage" of the fire, I feel BlogaBarbara's best purpose is not to serve as a news source (it is a blog, after all) but be a forum for ongoing community issues that will shape the community for years to come. The site should serve as a place for reasonable people to have a thought-provoking dialog about things that not only matter, but also things we can actually make a difference on.

The Zaca Fire, while an interesting event that we should all be aware of, is not something we really can control. Wildfire is something (like earthquakes) that we in the west must deal with and accept, but nothing we can really do anything about.

So, my two cents is that the best use of BlogaBarbara is for it to be THE local source for us to talk about the big issues we can control, that will shape the future of how we want our community to be.

One interesting point I'd just like to make is that there are currently about 2,000 people in the valley right now working very hard to protect the land, historic structures and potentially some homes from the fire. I find it ironic that many in our community benefit from their efforts but would never take the action necessary to provide housing for them so they may someday live in our community as neighbors.

7/10/2007 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if you noticed, but has Ray Ford on the job, and his coverage is as good as fire coverage gets. And somehow, one of their writers was there when the helicopter crashed.
Check it out:

7/10/2007 1:24 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

VOR -- thanks for the feedback. I think fatigue, however, is just what the NP is counting on in the long run. With enough money to keep the boat afloat -- that is likely what will happen. I do admit we had a run on NP Mess stories as it is so close to the anniversary of the resignations. I'll look out for it in the future. Anyone is welcome to provide an appropriate post for publication as well. Thanks again...

7/10/2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous christine said...

the land that is burning hasn't been burnt for 35 yrs- some of it 60 yrs...It's time for it to burn- it is not in a position to burn down a area of homes- and if it turns- there are hundreds of firefighters here- you should drive by the Holiday Inn in Solvang- the Marriot in Buellton- those guys are holed up NICE! At lunch- there fire fighters were 3 deep at Albertsons- McDonalds... the helicopter that crashed was taking off, not in a fire zone and everyone is fine- it didn't go down on Hurricane Deck, for goodness sakes. Remain calm is all I can say people. 2 yrs from now- that portion of the county will be awake with growth and bursting with life!

7/10/2007 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been very impressed with Ray Ford's reporting on the fire. I'm as aware of it as I am of many other local issues.

I'm certainly in agreement with you Sara that we must persist on the News-Press issue.

But there are so many other issues that are under the radar these days... well, I must admit, even back when the News-Press was at full strength, a lot of issues went unexamined.

A few of mine... developers are making $1000/sq ft off of new housing, but the cost of construction etc. is maybe $200-$300... that is at the root of the lower Chapala explosion... the City of Goleta is spending millions on a new concrete channel for San Jose Creek, and has totally blown off environmental concerns... UCSB is planning about 2,000 new housing units... Venoco has a lot of oil expansion in play... did the County gang bust matter?

7/11/2007 3:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray Ford, thank you for your detailed coverage!

7/11/2007 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fire is more than 'interesting' for a myriad of reasons, one being there are folks whose homes could be threatened depending on where this fire goes. And there is plenty that can be done to support the heroic firefighting efforts at this point in time.

7/11/2007 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Botany said...

I want to point out that the Mediterranean climate area is a unique environment in that fire is supposed to be an integral part of the ecosystem. Fire helps clear away dead, diseased and dying brush of plants adapted to regenerate from it. In many instances, seeds might not even germinate without the heat of the fire breaking down the seed coat or chemically inducing the seed to grow.

Humans have disrupted this natural process by purposely suppressing fire, causing a vast build-up of fuel that would normally be eliminated on a more frequent basis without our intervention. This has created the high heat, uncontrollable fires we have now, made even worse by the fact that we are now the most frequent cause for starting the fires in the first place.

I'm sorry about possible loss of homes and structures, but that is the risk we have all taken by opting to live in a climate that is supposed to have wildfires.

Looking on the bright side of things, there will be a fascinating and diverse range of vegetation coming up this winter and spring in the areas that have burned. If the Zaca area has not burned in over 40 years, we might see new plants come up that we have never yet seen in our lives.

7/11/2007 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do admit we had a run on NP Mess stories as it is so close to the anniversary of the resignations.

Yeah...that's what it is. Because there has been a veritable vacuum on anti-NewsPress threads.

7/11/2007 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes fire is natural to this area & inddeed creates new life (however this fire was human caused)

i think you can hold this idea of fire being part of the cycle of things yet still be compassionate rather than dismissive of the destruction that is occuring with this fire

i wonder how many of those who think its no big deal have spent time in the backcountry & wilderness areas?

as sb has become more of a city, it seems those who have experienced the backcountry are in the vast minority

7/12/2007 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christine and anyone interested-
Here is an article regarding some of the firefighters taking shifts staying at area hotels -

7/13/2007 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it is sad when the back country burns. It decimates the landscape so completely. Should there be decent rain next winter, spring will come bringing an incredible palette of wild vegetation that nobody has seen in years. I drove San Marcos Pass daily after the Painted Cave fire. It was so amazing to see how quickly the mountain recovered and what an incredible variety of plants existed that you never saw before. Nobody wants to see homes burned but allowing some of the forest to burn is healthy for it.

As far as putting up the firefighters in nice hotels. Tell you what, go spend a day fighting a fire in the heat and smoke and then complain about letting the guys and gals get some r and r in town after a few days on the line.

The story of the NP mess gets more sad as time goes on. From what I can tell Wendy will win because she has more power with her money than the NLRB has in laws. For those of us who collect a paycheck to survive it is about more than a newspaper and journalism. It puts all of us at the mercy of any employer who decides to abuse the system. Luckily most people in business are actually competent on some level and understand how their businesses function. They also respect their customers, employees and the community they serve. Wendy does none of that.

I am particularly sad that the community of SB has not stepped up and joined together to send her packing. I guess SB has turned into little L.A. It is all about status and money, who cares about the people who live and work there.

7/14/2007 6:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update from the Inciweb site-

"Significant Events: Northeast "sundowner" winds had an impact on the fire overnight. The winds surfaced and the fire made a significant run in the wilderness and burned its way south toward Sunset Valley. Contingency lines are already in place in this area and resources will be utilized to contain the fire at these pre-established lines.

Although the fire does not pose a threat at this time, residents who live south of the Los Padres National Forest Boundary in the Happy Canyon, Figueroa Mountain, and Woodstock communities need to monitor the fire situation closely. Contact the Zaca Fire Information Line at 805-961-5770 for current conditions."

7/16/2007 11:16 AM  

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