Containment for the Whittier Fire inching upwards despite increased fire activity

Containment for the Whittier Fire inching upwards despite increased fire activity

People watching the Whittier Fire Photo by Mike Eliason of SBC Fire

An overwhelming amount of phone calls to 9-1-1 and the fire department happened overnight as an increased fire activity happened on the Whittier Fire on the south side of the Santa Ynez Mountains below Santa Ynez Peak.

“This was a backing fire and fire management was aware and closely monitoring the situation,” according to fire officials with Los Padres National Forest Service.

Containment did increase a bit to 52 percent containment with current acreage burned at 13,199, they added.

The U.S. Air Force helped with fire efforts July 13. Photo by Mike Eliason, SBC Fire

Firefighters are expecting increased activity as the temperatures begin to rise and winds start to pick up into the weekend. Gusts are expected to be 25-30 miles per hour.

“The marine layer will clear warming the area and lowering the relative humidity. A major concern are the forecasted Sundowner winds that could begin Friday evening,” fire officials wrote on their incident reports.

Two firefighters were injured two days ago, one was from a fall and the other suffered a heat related injury but both are back working on the line, according to LPNF.

The Whittier Fire burning on the south side of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Photo by Mike Eliason, SBC Fire

Today at 2 p.m. will be a briefing on the rescue of more than 80 children at Circle V Ranch Camp, where kids and staff were briefly trapped by flames as rescue personnel weren’t able to get to them. Stories of the incident will be live streamed on the Star Facebook page.

“On behalf of Circle V Ranch Camp Director Ray Lopez, we are so very grateful to first responders, staff and volunteers who helped safely evacuated ALL our Session 2 campers and staff yesterday,” said Laura Kath, spokesperson for Circle V.

Circle V Ranch Camp has canceled the rest of their summer sessions and offering full refunds to those who already paid.

Evacuations centers have been established at San Marcos High School near Goleta and at Santa Ynez School. Highway 154 is still closed at this time as Caltrans and PG&E crews are working to repair the road and electrical power infrastructure.

Mandatory Evacuation Orders:

Highway I54 from Armour Ranch Road on the west to Paradise Road on the east. 

W. Camino Cielo from the Winchester Gun Club east to Highway 154 

Kinevan Road 

Evacuation Warnings: 

Las Varas Canyon east to Winchester Canyon and from Highway 101 North to W. Camino Cielo.

Paradise Road from 154 to the first river crossing.