Alisal Fire Prompts Evacuations, Freeway Closure in Santa Barbara County

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Southern California fires have scorched thousands of acres since sparks on Monday

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Officials closed part of Highway 101, which runs along California’s coastline, on Monday as fires spread through the area and from the freeway to Tajiguas Beach. The origin of the fire is currently unknown.

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Fire-management officials said northwesterly winds between 30 and 35 mph, with some gusts reaching 70 mph, pushed the fire through thick bushes, bushes and grass Monday through Tuesday. grew rapidly. Officials said strong winds prevented firefighters from using planes to help control the fire, as firefighters worked to protect structures from the ground.

A wind advisory from the National Weather Service is in effect for parts of Santa Barbara County as of Tuesday night. But the situation was expected to improve compared to Monday, officials said, as firefighters hoped to use aircraft to spray fire retardant in the area.

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The fire is currently burning in a sparsely populated part of Santa Barbara County that includes some farms with livestock. The flames spread rapidly on Monday, raging through dry vegetation burning south to the beach, said Andrew Madsen, a public information officer for the Los Padres National Forest.

Firefighters now plan to try to extinguish the fire, with the Pacific Ocean holding it aside, historic contingency lines to the north separating the fire from more populated areas and winds pushing it away from the west, Mr. Madsen said. To the east, the fire may eventually hit the burn mark left over from the 2016 Sherpa Fire, where little vegetation has grown, he said.

“Our hope and our outlook is that it’s not going to increase in size and we’ll be able to put it in the box and put it out there,” Madsen said. “But as long as there’s fuel and there’s active fire and flames, it’s going to continue to go through some of the really deep, thick, old fuel beds.”

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the Allisal Fire is one of several major fires currently burning more than 300,000 acres nationwide, with most in California, Idaho and Montana. Firefighters in the West have experienced a longer-than-average fire season this summer, deploying resources at levels not typically seen until later in the year. Droughts across the West have exacerbated the situation this year, making a significant amount of heavy and dry vegetation ready for fire to burn quickly.

Mr Madsen of the Los Padres National Forest said the changing climate and prolonged drought have created more challenging conditions for firefighters to adapt. “This explosive growth is now a new norm,” he said.

September, October, and November are often busy months for fires in California, especially in the southern part of the state, due to dry conditions and high winds. As of October 6, 7,883 fires have burned more than 2.4 million acres in California, according to data from Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. The five-year average for the same period is 7,312 fires and more than 1.2 million acres.

Write to Jennifer Calfas at [email protected]

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