Tuesday, June 2, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 13

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 11th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 28

Fire north of Buellton burns 200 acres; thousands lose power

By Zac Ezzone

About 20,000 residents near Buellton and the Santa Ynez Valley lost power on Sept. 9 after a fire broke out east of Highway 101.

Multiple fires broke out north of Buellton on Sept. 9, burning 200 acres and causing 20,000 residents to lose power.

At the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 10, county Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said the 200-acre McMurray Fire was about 20 percent contained as of that morning.

At the meeting, Hartwig said the cause of the fire is still under investigation; however, it appears to have started in multiple spots off Highway 101, between Highways 246 and 154. 

The county evacuated residents living in the area after the fire broke out, but those orders were lifted by 8 p.m. that night. Both highways 1 and 101 northbound were also closed for a period of time on Sept. 9.

Hartwig said there were about 600 firefighters trying to contain the fire on Sept. 9, with the county receiving help from San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties. 

“It’s great to yell for help and have your neighbors say ‘it’s on the way’ and ‘what do you need?’” Hartwig said.

The fire followed a weekend of hot temperatures and strong winds that led Southern California Edison to initiate a public safety power shutoff along the southern coast of the county near Goleta and Gaviota. Utility companies initiate these shutoffs to reduce the risk of wildfires starting near their infrastructure.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting, the county’s Office of Emergency Management Director Kelly Hubbard said the shutoff started on Sept. 7 and the power was turned back on Sept. 8 in the evening.

Hubbard clarified that while thousands lost their power over the weekend due to the public safety shutoff, this was not the case for the residents who lost power during the McMurray Fire on Sept. 9. 

“Our understanding is, related to the fire, this was not a proactive, public safety power shutdown,” Hubbard said. “It was related to the fire and was not a proactive event.”

At the meeting, the Board of Supervisors also approved the purchase of four engines at the cost of $670,000 each to replace older engines that have been in use since 2007.

Weekly Poll
How would you like to see transportation officials try to make highways in the Santa Ynez Valley safer?

Add biking and walking paths along the highways to keep pedestrians away from traffic.
Reduce speed limits near certain intersections.
Build more roundabouts.
It doesn't matter. Caltrans won't do anything about it.

| Poll Results

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