Whittier Fire showing signs of improvement on containment

Photo by Mike Eliason SBC Fire

As improving weather conditions on the south side of the Whittier Fire has created an opportunity for firefighters to safely begin constructing fireline directly on the fire’s edge and some evacuations have been reduced from mandatory to warnings. The fire has burned roughly 18,331 acres and is at 62 percent containment as of Tuesday morning, according to fire officials.

The fire that started on July 8 has burned 16 residences, damaged one residence and destroyed 30 outbuildings, according to incident reports. The slope that the fire is primarily burning on is comprised of oak trees and brush that have not burned since the Refugio Fire in 1955.

“Over the last several years these fuels have been stressed by the exceptional drought conditions and a high percentage of the fuel bed is dead. The combination of old, dry fuels with a newly cured heavy grass crop contributed to the rapid growth of this fire. Large, old oak trees are continuing to burn well after the fire has past, leaving hazardous snags along highways and firelines,” officials wrote. 

Weak high pressure will remain over the fire area for the next several days which will allow the weather pattern to be dominated by marine influences including fog and low clouds at night and early morning over lower and middle elevations of the fire while the higher terrain will remain clear.

Because of the reduced threat and improving conditions, the changes listed below are effective immediately:

  • Calle Real north to West Camino Cielo, from Winchester Canyon Road on the east, to El Capitan Ranch Road on the west. This includes all roads and trails within the area of the order

The following area remains in an Evacuation Warning:

  • Cachuma Village

The following road closure remains in place:

  • West Camino Cielo, from Winchester Gun Club on the east side, to Refugio Road on the west side.

Wagon Wheel, Winchester Commons and Langlo Ranch Road are not in the Evacuation Warning area.

Fire restrictions have been implemented and a Forest Closure Order is in effect in the area of the fire. For more specific information go to Los Padres Forest website Alerts and Notices or call the Los Padres National Forest at (805) 968-6640.

Please be aware that firefighters and fire equipment are working in the area. Drive with caution.

The Whittier Fire will continue to smolder for some time. These “smokers” are well inside the perimeter of the burn and do not pose a threat to the fireline.

Area residents who need assistance returning large animals to their properties are requested to call the Animal Services Hotline: (805) 681-4332.