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Thomas Fire Threatens Santa Barbara Area

KVTA News Saturday December 16, 2017


(Photos of Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County Saturday by Mike Eliason SBCFD)

UPDATE AT 7:15 PM SATURDAY (12-16)---THIS IS FROM THE CITY OF FILLMORE..."The fire continues to hold on the west side of the Sespe Creek, forecasted winds for the next few days are favorable to keeping the fire away from Fillmore."

UPDATE AT 12:55 PM SATURDAY (12-16)---101 OPEN BETWEEN VENTURA & SANTA BARBARA COUNTIES BUT EXPECT SLOW DOWNS AND DELAYS IN SOME AREAS.  150 FROM LAKE CASITAS TO CARPINTERIA AND 192 FROM THERE TO SANTA BARBARA IS CLOSED.  HIGHWAY 154 CLOSED FROM THE 192 TO 246.  HIGHWAY 33 NORTH OF OJAI VALLEY IN LOS PADRES IS CLOSED.

Update---The Thomas Fire, encouraged by strong Sundowner winds Saturday morning exploded again in the mountains and canyons northeast of Summerland, Montecito and Santa Barbara, making serious runs at some of the scattered homes in that area.  Evacuation Orders were expanded (see below).  

The winds will swing around after midnight to become strong northeast winds (Santa Ana's). 

The Thomas Fire has now burned through 267,500 acres and is 40% contained.  It's the third largest wildfire in California history and could become number two by sometime Sunday.

There are more than 8,000 personnel assigned to the fire and firefighting costs as of Saturday were $110 million.

Update at 11:50 AM Saturday (12-16)--Message 1 of 2: The mandatory evacuation orders for Santa Barbara County issued by the Sheriff’s Department during the morning of December 16, 2017 include all areas east of Highway 154, south of East Camino Cielo, west of Toro Canyon and north of Highway 101.

Msg. 2 of 2: at Toro Cyn to S. Salinas then N of Alameda Padre Serra & to Highway 192 W to 154. The previous evacuation order for the area east of Toro Canyon to Casitas Pass Rd north of Hwy 192 and south of East Camino Cielo remains in effect. Residents should leave immediately.

Update at 11:40 AM Saturday (12-16)--From Santa Barbara County--if you are in a warning or mandatory evacuation area and need transportation assistance out of the area, call the Thomas Fire Community Call-in line at (805) 681-5542 or text (805) 729-6538 and state your specific need.

Update at 11 AM Saturday (12-16)---This is somewhat repetitive of what we have also posted below, but we wanted to put it all in one post plus a remember again that the 101 NB is completely closed at Seacliff due to what's going on today in Santa Barbara County. The 150 through Casitas Pass has been closed for several days plus the 33 through the Los Padres north of the Ojai Valley remains closed due to flanks of the Thomas Fire up there. Anyway here is the current rundown of evacuations in Santa Barbara County today...

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff has issued:

An Evacuation Order has been issued for:

- Santa Barbara City: the area east of Hwy 154 to Mission Canyon Rd and north of Hwy

192 to East Camino Cielo.

- Montecito and Summerland Area - South of Hwy 192, North of Hwy 101, West of Toro

Cyn, East of Summit Rd & Country Club

- SB City and Montecito north of Alameda Padre Serra/Hwy 101, south of Hwy 192, east of

Mission Canyon Road, & west of Hot Springs & Summit Road.

An Evacuation Warning for:

- Santa Barbara City - from W. Mission Street, east to S. Salinas Street, from Hwy 101 to

Alameda Padre Serra

- West of Santa Barbara City - North San Marcos Rd to HWY 154 and north of Cathedral

Oaks Rd to the intersection of HWY 154 and North San Marcos Rd.

- The area from Constance/Alameda Padre Serra/South Salinas on the north and east,

Highway 101 on the south, and West Mission St to State St on the west.

- All areas south of 101 to the coast & east of the zoo to San Ysidro Road. If you are in this

area, prepare to leave

A complete list of evacuations and road closures may be found at:

www.CountyofSB.org www.ReadyVenturaCounty.org

Update at 10:40 AM Saturday (12-16)--In Ventura County, Crews continue to improve the established Fireline to keep the fire out of the outlying areas of Fillmore.

Update at 10:25 AM Saturday (12-16)---Remember the NB 101 is now shut down at Seacliff because of the flare-up of the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County and evacuations going on in part of Summerland, Montecito and Santa Barbara. Also, since Highway 150 is also closed through the Casitas Pass, there is no way to travel directly between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, you have to use the 126 to the 5 and then up into the San Joaquin Valley and then over to the coast. Also, Highway 33 is still closed north of the Ojai Valley in the Los Padres National Forest.

Santa Barbara Co Evacuation Zones map has now been updated as of 10:20 a.m. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer…

Update at 10:20 AM Saturday (12-16)---In addition to the wind driven flare-up in Santa Barbara County, that same wind pattern is impacting the fronts of the Thomas Fire in the back country of the Los Padres National Forest north of the Ojai Valley in areas like Rose Valley and the Matilija Wilderness. That is putting up a lot of smoke over parts of Ventura County.

UPDATE AT 9:40 AM SATURDAY (12-16)---MANDATORY EVACUATIONS ARE GOING ON INVOLVING SUMMERLAND, MONTECITO AND SANTA BARBARA. LOOK BELOW FOR SPECIFICS. ALSO, CHP SAYS BECAUSE OF WHAT'S GOING ON IN SANTA BARBARA THEY WERE CLOSING THE NB 101 AT SEACLIFF IN VENTURA COUNTY.

ALSO, AN UPDATE ON THE DEATH OF CAL FIRE ENGINEER FROM THE VENTURA COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE TODAY..."Cory Iverson, the 32-year-old firefighter who died while fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County was transported to the Ventura County Medical Examiner Office. An autopsy was performed on Friday and the cause of death is “Thermal Injuries and Smoke Inhalation”.  A procession to take Iverson back to his home base in San Diego will leave Ventura around 10 AM Sunday and go south on the 101 through Ventura County to LA County with firefighters saluting from freeway overpasses along the way.  His memorial service in San Diego County will be next Saturday.

Update at 9:30 AM Saturday (12-16)--Latest evacuation notices for Santa Barbara County...

CHP says they're closing the 101 NB at Seacliff due to the Thomas Fire situation in the Montecito and Santa Barbara area right now.

MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER: Montecito and Summerland area north of Alameda Padre Sierra/South Salinas Street and Highway 101, south of 192, east of Mission Canyon Road, and west of Hot Springs/Summit Road. Residents should leave immediately.

MANDATORY EVAC ORDER: SB City and Montecito north of Alameda Padre Serra/Hwy 101, south of 192, east of Mission Canyon Road, & west of Hot Springs & Summit Road. If you are in this area, leave now.

MANDATORY EVAC ORDER: Santa Barbara City: the area east of Hwy 154 to Mission Canyon Rd and north of 192 to East Camino Cielo. Leave Now.

MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER: Montecito and Summerland Area - South of 192, North of 101, West of Toro Cyn, East of Summit Rd & Country Club

MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER for parts of Montecito & Summerland. This includes the area South of 192, North of 101, West of Toro Canyon, East of Summit Road & Country Club. If you are in this area, leave now.

Update at 7:45 AM Saturday (12-16)---In Santa Barbara County--The fire is actively burning in the Hot Springs drainage & along the N side of Santa Ynez range & running uphill. All current evacuation orders & warnings remain in place, but may change at moments notice. Please continue to remain vigilant & be prepared.

Update at 06:35 AM Saturday (12-16)--The Thomas Fire has grown to more than 259,000 acres and is 40% contained. It is now the 3rd largest wildfire in California history passing the Rim Fire in August of 2013 in Tuolumne County. Full containment of the Thomas Fire is not expected until January 7th. Update: cost of fighting the Thomas Fire to date is almost $104 million.

They Just Won't Stop...


KVTA News Friday December 15, 2017

There was a lull in the wind Friday that gave firefighters battling the 256,000 acre Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties a chance to make progress in beating back its various hot spots.

But it's going to be short-lived as another round of gusty winds are due in this weekend.

It's start out early Saturday with north or Sundowner winds that are common to the southcoast of Santa Barbara County and much of the Highway 33 corridor and north of Fillmore.

Those winds are of considerable concern to fire officials and in Santa Barbara County hundreds of fire engines at staged at homes along the border between the front country and back country northeast of Montecito and the city of Santa Barbara.

Those Sundowners will last into Saturday night, and then, they swing around and will come out of the northeast (Santa Ana's) and it's the rest of Ventura County's turn to be under the gun, especially Sunday morning where wind gusts could hit 50 miles per hour.

In Fillmore, there is continued concern about all this since that stubborn flank of the Thomas Fire along the west side of Sespe Creek seems unwilling to bend to the efforts of firefighters on the ground or in the air.

Friday it briefly jumped over Sespe Creek but firefights caught it before it could gaing traction and they continued to mop up and improve the fireline keeping that fire away from the city of Fillmore.

Still, another round of weekend winds leaves local residents wondering, when is it going to stop?

There was good news Friday, Ventura police announced that they will lift the evacuation order and allow residents of the two remaining east-end hillside communities devastated by the fire to return to their homes Saturday morning after 10 AM. 

Only residents with proof of residency will be allowed into Ondulando and Clear Point during the first 24 hours. 

This will mean that there will be no evacuation zones anywhere in the city of Ventura.

The Thomas Fire is poised to become the 3rd largest wildfire in state history if it grows by just 1315 more acres.

Cost of fighting it was up to almost $97 million.

Meanwhile, the tally of destroyed or damaged structures continues to rise.

In the city of Ventura it's now 530 structures destroyed and 148 damaged.

In the rest of Ventura County it's 454 destroyed and 94 damaged.

And in Santa Barbara County is 23 structures destroyed and 5 damaged.

Finally, the city of Ventura is holding another community meeting Saturday at 3 PM at Buena High School.

Firefighter Killed Battling Thomas Fire Near Fillmore

KVTA News Thursday December 14, 2017

UPDATE---FALLEN CAL FIRE ENGINEER CORY IVERSON WILL RETURN TO HIS HOME BASE IN SAN DIEGO SUNDAY MORNING.  A PROCESSION WILL BEGIN AROUND 10 AM SUNDAY AND GO SB ON THE 101 THROUGH VENTURA COUNTY INTO LA COUNTY.  THERE WILL BE FIREFIGHTERS STATION ON FREEWAY OVERCROSSING ALONG THE WAY.  HIS MEMORIAL SERVICE WILL BE NEXT SATURDAY DECEMBER 23RD IN SAN DIEGO.

UPDATE ON THE DEATH OF CAL FIRE ENGINEER FROM THE VENTURA COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE TODAY..."Cory Iverson, the 32-year-old firefighter who died while fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County was transported to the Ventura County Medical Examiner Office. An autopsy was performed on Friday and the cause of death is “Thermal Injuries and Smoke Inhalation”.

The Thomas Fire has claimed a second life.

Thursday while battling a flare-up in the fire northwest of Fillmore, Cal Fire Engineer Cory Iverson was killed.

Cal Fire officials say they will not release details of his death until after a thorough investigation.

Iversion was 32-years-old and had been with Cal Fire since 2009.

His strike team worked out of San Diego.

They were part of a response to a flare-up on the southeast flank of Thomas Thursday morning when for undisclosed reasons, Iverson was killed.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An escort of his fellow firefighters and law enforcement offiials escorted Iverson's remains to the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office in Ventura.

Iverson is survived by his wife and two-year-old daughter and his wife is expecting their second child.

This is the second death from the Thomas Fire.

On the night it began, December 4th, 70-year-old Virginia Pesola of Santa Paula died trying to flee the flames in Wheeler Canyon.

The Thomas Fire has burned more than 249,500 acres and is 35% contained.

There are some 8300 personnel assigned to the fire and firefighting costs so far at $82 million.

Thomas Fire 4th Largest Wildfire In State History

KVTA News Thursday December 14, 2017

(Flare up in a canyon northwest of Fillmore as seen from VCOES webcam on Torrey Peak)

The Thomas Fire became the 4th largest wildfire in California history Thursday as it grew to 242,500 acres.

That passes the July 2007 Zaca Fire in Santa Barbara County at 240,700 acres.

The Thomas Fire remains 30% contained.

There are more than 8,000 personnel on the fire and firefighting costs are now approaching $75 million

There was a flare up Thursday morning deep in a canyon northwest of Fillmore, west of Sespe Creek.

Fire officials said Wednesday that that flank of the fire was a success story and they were going to lift evacuation notices for the unincorporated areas west of Sespe Creek and north of the 126 this morning.

The flare up created a large amount of smoke.

Meanwhile, thousands of people were allowed back in their homes Wednesday in Ventura County but many are still displaced.

Evacuation Orders remain for the east Ventura hillside communities of Ondulando and Clear Point and the Mandatory evacuation order for everything east of Mission Canyon Road and north of the 192 in Santa Barbara County were still in effect Thursday morning.

Thomas Fire 238,500 Acres, 30% Contained

KVTA News Wednesday December 13, 2017

(Photo from Ventura County OES webcam on Rasnow Peak in NB Park looking north)

Updated---The Thomas Fire showed modest grow to 238,500 acres Wednesday afternoon and was now 30% contained.

Firefighting costs so far are almost $69 million.

There was good news for some people in Ventura and just west of Fillmore.

In Ventura evacuation orders were lifted everywhere EXCEPT for those areas north of Foothill Road between Cobblestone Drive and N. Kimball Drive.

That means residents can return to the Skyline and Hidden Valley areas, but NOT to Ondulando or Clear Point.

Meanwhile, in Fillmore, the flank of the Thomas Fire burning northwest of Fillmore west of Sespe Creek is not at a point when Cal Fire officials say residents of the unincporated area west of Sespe Creek that had been under a Mandatory Evacuation Order can return on Thursday morning at 8 AM.

On the eastern edge of Montecito in Santa Barbara County firefighters got aggressive with Thomas, attacking the flames directly and pushing the fire to the northeast and farther into the backcountry and away from the front country.

 Back Ventura County, firefighters worked to expand containment lines.

The one-stop Recovery Assistance Center opened at the Poinsettia Pavilion on Foothill Road in Ventura giving all county residents impacted by Thomas one place to go where almost two dozen city, county and state agencies and organizations were ready to provide assistance.

For appointments, call 211 or visit http://venturacountyrecovers.org . Those requiring transportation to the LAC can call the hotline at (805) 465-6650.

The center is open 9 AM to 7 PM Monday-Saturdays and 9-4 on Sundays through at least December 31st.

The first day today saw a large crowd show up even before the doors opened.

This is for ALL Ventura County residents impacted by Thomas.

Meanwhile, in Fillmore, a community meeting will be held tomorrow (Thursday) night at 7:30 PM at Fillmore Middle School at 543 A Street.

The bad news is that we are expecting periods of more gusty northeast winds through at least Friday and a Red Flag Warning remains in effect until then.

For official information on the Thomas Fire go to: readyventuracounty.org and countyofsb.org

Update: Thomas Fire 236,000 Acres, 25% Contained

KVTA News Tuesday December 12, 2017

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire)

The Thomas Fire entered its second week at 236,000 acres and 25% contained.

Almost 8,000 personnel and now assigned to the blaze that covers almost 369 square miles from just northwest of Fillmore to just east of Montecito/

The cost of fighting the fire so far is $55.6 million.

Tuesday was marked by a problem with smoke from the fire.

It kept much of the air support on the ground in Santa Barbara County.

It also created a day of coughing and choking for people from Camarillo to Carpinteria.

The problem was two fold: smoke from the fire that is pushed out to sea by the off shore wind gets pushed back to coastal communities by a onshore wind shift.

Making matter worst Tuesday was a planned back firing operation near Lake Casitas that added to the smoke.

Fire officials did say they was successful in dealing with the stubborn flank of the fire near Fillmore and had "turned a corner."

This fire destroyed 504 single family homes and damaged 132 others in the city of Ventura.

Outside of the city of Ventura, 196 residences were destroyed and 33 were damaged.

Five residences in Santa Barbara County were destroyed.

For ALL Ventura County residents or business owners who were victims of the Thomas Fire, there is a one-stop assistence center being set up at the Poinsettia Pavilion on Foothill Road in Ventura starting Wednesday.  It will run every day from 9 AM to 7 PM M-Sat and 9 AM to 4 PM on Sundays until the end of this month.

There will be 23 different government agencies and other programs involved.

Finally, the boil water order has now been lifted for the entire city of Ventura.

More more information on everything at readyventuracounty.org and countofsb.org

Thomas Fire 234,200 Acres, 20% Contained

KVTA News Tuesday December 12, 2017

(Looking northwest towards Fillmore Tuesday morning from VCSO webcam)

The Thomas Fire is now at 234,200 acres and 20% contained with almost 7,000 personnel assigned to the fire that continues to burn in both Ventura and Santa Barbara conties.

Cost of fighting the fire so far is $48 million.

The fire has destroyed or damaged almost 1,000 structures, most are homes and most in the city of Ventura.

Crews spent Monday night dealing with the western edge of the fire which is in Toro and Romero canyons in the backcountry north of Carpinteria and Summerland.

After explosive growth Sunday, the fire in that area has slowed somewhat.

Meanwhile a stubborn flank of the fire on a steep hillside northwest of Fillmore flared up Monday but by Tuesday morning looked a lot better.

They also did some backfiring in the Casitas Pass east of Red Mountain.

Crews are back out there today working on containment lines and keeping the fire from advancing.

A small air force of helicopters and fixed wing air tankers are helping from the sky.

For official information: countyofsb.org and readyventuracounty.org

 

   heavy rain falling across the warned area. Flash flooding is
   expected to begin shortly if not already occuring. Flash flooding,
   mud, and debris flows are likely below the Solimar and Camarillo
   Springs burn areas. 
 
 * Some locations that will experience flooding include...
   Solimar Burn Area...
   Springs Burn Area...
   Oxnard...
   Ventura...
   Camarillo...
   Fillmore...
   Ojai...
   Santa Paula...
   La Conchita...
   and Highway 33 between Wheeler Springs and Rose Valley Road.
 
 PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...
 
 Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood
 deaths occur in vehicles.
 
 Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small
 creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as
 well as other drainage areas and low lying spots.
 
 Please report flooding to your local law enforcement agency when you
 can do so safely.
 
 A Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring.
 If you are in the warned area move to higher ground immediately.
 Residents living along streams and creeks should take immediate
 precautions to protect life and property.
 
 A Flash Flood Warning for a recent burn area means that flooding and
 debris flows are imminent or occurring. Residents living in or
 immediately below the burn area should take immediate precautions 
 to protect life and property. Quickly move away from the burn area 
 only if it is safe to do so, otherwise shelter in place and move 
 to a second storyor the highest location in your home to stay out 
 of the path of fast-moving water and debris flows.