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Homes burning in Santa Barbara hills as fire rages out of control [Updated]

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Several homes burned this afternoon in the hills above Santa Barbara as a brush fire fueled by hot, dry winds raged out of control.

So-called Sundowner winds picked up this afternoon, re-energizing a brush fire that has been burning for more than 24 hours.

Hot, dry winds were pushing the fire into hillside areas dotted by large homes.

[Updated at 5:25 p.m.: Two firefighters were trapped in a house when the fire swept through and suffered burns, according to the Santa Barbara News-Press. They were taken to a hospital, but their condition was not immediately known.

TV news reporters were overhead saying that they saw at least a half-dozen homes destroyed by the fire, and predicting that number would grow. Hundreds of homes are under evacuation orders and parts of downtown Santa Barbara could be evacuated later in the evening.]

Fire officials were upbeat at a news conference this morning. They reduced their estimate of the fire's size from 420 acres to 196 acres, saying that thick smoke overnight led to the miscalculation by aerial observers. No structures had been destroyed at that time.

"I'm guardedly optimistic," interim Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Andrew DiMizio said earlier today. "This is the first time in my career I've used those words."

Flames worked their way Tuesday night through brush that had not burned in decades, but the wildfire was slowed by moisture levels higher than they are during a typical autumn fire season.

-- Steve Chawkins and Catherine Saillant

MapFire map from the county of Santa Barbara.

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (2)

It is always disheartens me to hear someone has lost a home yet as Californians we expect fire season, not unlike those in hurricane areas or even tornado alley. However, we do not expect it to start so early in the year and when it does we have to be extra vigilant, as unlike a hurricane or tornado we as humans have some control through the use of common since. If a fire is started by lighting then Mother Nature controls it, but most of California fires are started by human beings. This by itself is what makes it so much harder as we have the control.

Being prepared for a disaster is easier in these situations and I myself (living next to open land) will make a bigger effort in clearing the area around my home as well as helping my elderly neighbor. If everyone makes the same effort we maybe able to make a difference in helping potential firefighter save our homes and help an elderly person whom otherwise could not help themselves. On my web site mddesignhomes.com there is a link to FEMA’s after the fire returning to normal, I hope it helps should the need arise.

Gail Devine
Mddesignhomes.com

I don't like to sound like a know it all, but I have often wondered since I bough my FireBreak system why it is that the fire drops of fireproofing material aren't airlifted and dropped ON THE HOMES FIRST and then the firefighters can fan out into the hills?

The stuff PUTS THE FIRE OUT and PREVENTS IGNITION. Why aren't they dropping it on homes?


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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