Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, August 06, 2007

Montecito Fire Meeting

For those of you that live in Montecito -- The Independent's J'Amy Brown posted this earlier today:

Dear Montecito Neighbor ~ You have probably received several emails today (and I may have posted you twice here in my haste) about a townhall meeting tomorrow night at El Montecito Prsby Church, organized by Montecito Fire District. The meeting will address facts and procedures regarding the Zaca fire, as it pertains to Montecito.  I have now posted a story on Indy so you can email this link to your neighbors.  I spoke with Kevin Wallace this evening, and there is no immediate danger, but by attending this meeting, you can get the current facts, see some maps, and learn how to be prepared for this emergency or others. Thanks, and DO stay safe! J'Amy



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, Sara, the web rocks...nearly 500 showed up at Montecito Fire District's meeting...ALL of them alerted by email, and websites. Thank you, Sara, for being a part of this emergency we are all pushed to learn new ways to communicate and share our news in SB. I guess we should feel blessed to live in interesting times!--J'Amy

8/06/2007 10:30 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Unfortunately, I unkowingly read your comment to post a bit late and hope this could be a place to talk about what happened...thank you for rallying the community!

8/06/2007 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This, from a friend who has a second-hand report from the Montecito meeting.

Some of you may have attended last night's Town Hall meeting in
Montecito related to the Zaca Fire, but many of you may not yet be
aware of all of the changing conditions of this fire as it relates to
those of us who live and/or work in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and
Montecito. If you are not already aware, this email is to help alert
you, as many people in the Santa Barbara area (and those who commute
into the Santa Barbara area for work) may not realize that the
situation has elevated to a higher alert status. According to one
source who attended last night's meeting, the situation "appears

Here's the status as of early Monday evening:

1) The Zaca Fire is 3 miles from the Santa Ynez River and
another 2 miles from Camino Cielo Ridge. For those of you who may not
know, Camino Cielo Ridge is the ridge of the mountains that we can all
see from State Street, Hollister Avenue, the 101 Freeway - i.e. from
almost anywhere in town. This means that the fire as of Monday
evening was only 5 miles away from our line of vision.

2) The major power source for all of Santa Barbara, Goleta and
Montecito lies between the Santa Ynez River and Camino Cielo Ridge.
If the fire jumps the river, there is a very high probability that we
will all end up without power.

3) There are three major lines of defense against the fire - at
the edge of the fire itself, at the Santa Ynez River, and at Camino
Cielo Ridge.

4) All day Monday and Tuesday of this week, fire trucks and
equipment will be moving into the area from around the state to help
fight the fire. You may see them as they drive around getting to know
the area, looking for the best strategies and lines of defense for the
town should the fire get to the ridge. I spoke with a fireman from
one unit myself yesterday (Monday) - his unit had come in from
Yosemite and said that they were part of the "strike force" being
brought into the area to try to protect our shelters if the fire gets
to the ridge.

5) Wednesday and Thursday of this week are expected to be very
hot with high winds - possibly "sundowners". For those of you who
remember the Painted Cave fire in 1991, it was "sundowner" winds that
caused the fire to move so rapidly down the hill into Santa Barbara.

Here's what's most important to know: If the fire gets to the Santa
Ynez River, an "evacuation warning" will be issued and everyone will
be urged to start taking measures to leave town. The fire department
does not want everyone waiting until the last minute to pack up their
valuables and start heading out of town. If the fire gets to Camino
Cielo Ridge, an "evacuation order" will be issued and people will have
6 HOURS to "get out of Dodge". The Police will start canvassing
neighborhoods with loud speakers and everyone had better pay
attention, because the fire department doesn't want anyone but
themselves and the police left in town when the fire gets to the
bottom of that ridge. The fire is too wide and too intense. They
don't want to be worrying about saving lives while they are also
worrying about saving the town's structures.

This period of staying alert could last a good week or things could
happen faster.

So, it has been recommended that we all start preparing whatever we'll
want to take with us if we need to leave. That means photos, client
files, and anything else that you can't afford to lose. And families
need to start developing game plans so that everyone can be found and
gathered up in a hurry if a move becomes necessary. It would be smart
to keep your cars full of gas, to pack bottled water to take with you,
and perhaps keep a battery-powered transistor radio and flashlight

It is apparent from the 6:30 pm news I watched last night on KEYT-TV
that the media as of Monday evening had not yet caught up with all of
the latest news of the fire, even though they were reporting that the
Town Hall Meeting in Montecito was taking place. I called one
newspaper myself about mid-day on Monday (yesterday), after my
conversation with the fireman from Yosemite, to see if they knew what
was going on and they had not yet heard. Hopefully, more will be
reported on Tuesday, but in case it is not, the following websites
could be useful to you:

1) (click on "Active
Fire Maps" in the left hand column, then click on the # 7 that appears
on the map of California). While the site states that the fire is 68%
contained (also reported by the media), it also says that the fire has
burned 63,350 acres to date (a "43% increase from yesterday" - meaning
from Sunday) and "A Continuous Fuelbed Lies Ahead Of The Fire's
Dominant Spread Direction." The "Current Detections" link in the left
hand column of the Home page will take you to a second map that shows
a "Red Flag Warning".

2) will
take you to an additional page with a visual map of the fire - where
it's been, where it is now, and its proximity to the Santa Ynez River.

3) has links to written updates
about the fire. Monday evening's update says in part "Cal-Fire
arrived as contingency support with 10 strike teams of 5 engines each
for local efforts and has established a base camp at the Earl Warren
Show Grounds. Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Scherrei said, "Cal-Fire
has set forth a massive effort in the event that the front county
communities are threatened. Cal-Fire presence will be seen throughout
the area as they familiarize themselves with the front county
communities. Community members should feel free to ask any Cal-Fire
staff questions about the Zaca fire. ... For specific updates on the
Zaca Fire, the public can call the Zaca Fire Public Information Line
at (805) 961-5770 or go online to or or

8/07/2007 5:56 PM  

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