Evacuation order issued as Lake Fire expands to 13

Evacuation order issued as Lake Fire expands to 13

Santa Barbara County officials expanded evacuation orders on Sunday evening as the Lake Fire became the largest wildfire currently burning in California. The fire, which ignited around 4 p.m. on Friday near Zaca Lake, rapidly spread across the dry vegetation, fueled by high temperatures and low humidity.

By Sunday evening, the fire had scorched 18,996 acres, with containment efforts only reaching 8%. Despite some success on two fronts, Figueroa Mountain Road remained a significant challenge as flames breached containment lines, according to Rick Marinelli, operations section chief for the incident management team.

“Major threats for the night are going to be focused on this piece, and the possibility of the fire moving south toward the structures,” Marinelli informed the night shift during a 7 p.m. briefing. Protecting the community of Woodstock became a primary focus, with incident commanders setting action points that could trigger further evacuations.

The coastal marine layer provided some relief to firefighters at lower elevations, but fire behavior trainee Dan Michael cautioned crews to remain vigilant at higher altitudes. “There is a massive grass crop out there that’s all cured out, and it’s been baking for days,” he added.

Despite a robust firefighting force of approximately 1,000 personnel and a fleet of tankers, helicopters, and other aircraft, officials do not anticipate a quick resolution. “This is a long-duration fire,” said Marc Peebles, public information officer for Incident Management Team 13.

On Sunday night, an evacuation order was issued for all areas from Figueroa Mountain Road at Junction Camp (including Tunnel Road) to the Chamberlin Ranch. The order also covered all areas from Zaca Lake Road at Foxen Canyon Road north to the Sisquoc River, including east of Foxen Canyon Road to the 9000 block. This area had previously been under an evacuation warning before being upgraded to an order.

Earlier on Sunday, an evacuation order was issued for an area spanning from the Grass Mountain Trailhead to the neighborhood within Sawmill Basin, including Tunnel Road and the Figueroa Campground. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office issued a new evacuation warning for areas north of Calzada Avenue, east of East Oak Trail Road, west of Happy Canyon, and south of the Sisquoc River.

Residents in evacuation warning areas are urged to remain vigilant and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall, 1745 Mission Drive, Solvang.

Personnel and equipment have been mobilized from across California, including San Diego, San Bernardino, and Orange County in the south, and Marysville and Yuba City in the north. Additional resources have arrived from Utah, South Dakota, Colorado, and Texas.

The fire camp at the Santa Maria rodeo grounds parking area has transformed into a small city, complete with showers, a day sleeper area, kitchen, and laundry facilities. Semitrailers full of supplies have filled the camp, supporting the extensive firefighting efforts.

As the aerial firefight continued, the Santa Maria Public Airport attracted onlookers eager to watch the aircraft, including the massive DC-10 Tanker 911, as they landed to refuel and load more retardant. Multiple air tankers, helicopters, and other aircraft have been deployed to assist hand crews, bulldozer operators, and other ground personnel.

Structure defense crews have been strategically deployed to protect buildings in the fire area as the flames posed a threat to a community with about 15 homes. The fire also burned on Sycamore Valley Ranch, formerly known as pop star Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. One of four cabins south of the Figueroa campground was reportedly damaged.

Midland School, which sits on 2,860 acres, relocated the last of its horses from the campus on Figueroa Mountain Road, and the students and staff left on Sunday. Firefighters are expected to use Midland as a staging point, sleeping in cabins and using the school facility for meals.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to this entire community,” said Hannah Nelson, Midland’s head of school, in a social media post. “There has been such an outpouring of support from local folks offering places to stay, space for animals, and just expressing care and love for this place that has meant so much to so many.”

Several wineries in the area were also affected during what should have been a busy Fourth of July weekend. Zaca Mesa Winery announced a temporary closure, expressing gratitude for the firefighters’ efforts. Andrew Murray Vineyards also noted the fire burning nearby and extended their deepest gratitude to the fire crews working tirelessly to protect the community. The winery remained open for order pickups and indoor hosted tasting experiences.

Firestone Vineyard and Winery also closed due to the fire’s proximity, but partner wineries Lincourt Vineyard and Foley Estates remained open.

As the Lake Fire continues to rage, the community remains on high alert, with evacuation orders and warnings in place to ensure the safety of residents. Firefighters are working around the clock to contain the blaze and protect structures, but the battle is far from over.

Source: Noozhawk, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top