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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 11th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 32

County and city fire agencies respond to fires across state


As thousands of acres in California burn, firefighters from across the state are scrambling to douse the flames, including some from Santa Barbara County and city fire agencies.

According to a news release from Cal Fire on Oct. 10, at least 17 large wildfires started over a span of 36 hours, burning more than 115,000 acres. One blaze, the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma and Napa counties scorched 27,000 acres and destroyed 571 structures. Another inferno south of Lake Berryessa and Northeast of Napa called the Atlas Fire burned 25,000 acres and destroyed 125 structures.

Nearby residents were ordered to evacuate vulnerable areas, while surrounding communities remain on high alert.

Cal Fire said on Oct. 10 that at least 13 people had died due to the fires in Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, and Yuba counties.

As of the Sun’s press time on Oct. 10, both the Tubbs and Atlas fires were zero percent contained.

“I’ve never seen the devastation that happened there,” Santa Barbara County Fire Public Information Officer Mike Eliason told the Sun on Oct. 10.

Eliason said he had not seen the damage first-hand but noted the images, videos, and accounts emerging from the area revealed total destruction. He compared the damage dealt by the blaze to the Painted Cave Fire in 1990, which began at the intersection of Highway 154 and Painted Cave Road in the Santa Ynez Mountains. The blaze destroyed 427 buildings and killed one person.

 “When that fire blew down through the foothills and jumped a six-lane highway and railroad tracks, it just obliterated a mixed corner of condominiums and businesses,” Eliason said. “In Santa Rosa, now you’ve got a whole huge portion of town that looks like a nuclear bomb went off—just looking at the pictures you can tell how hot it burned by how little is left.”

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department dispatched three individuals to the Tubbs Fire and sent a mixed-strike team of engines to the Atlas Fire in Napa. The team is lead by a Santa Barbara City Fire battalion chief and consists of five engines, each manned by four firefighters. The engines are from the Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Montecito, and Carpinteria fire departments.

Lompoc Battalion Chief Mark Bray said the unit assisting on the Atlas Fire was the only personnel dispatched out of area. The Santa Maria Fire Department did not respond to the Sun’s requests for comment before press time.

Santa Barbara County also has several units and teams dispatched to the Canyon Fire 2 in Anaheim, which had burned more than 7,000 acres and destroyed more than a dozen buildings as of Oct. 10.

On Oct. 9, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada, and Orange counties. The next day, the White House granted Brown’s request for federal assistance with the Northern California fires.

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency has responded promptly to assist California in fighting these terrible fires,” Brown said in a statement. “I appreciate the fast response from the president.”

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