KITP: Jesusita Fire

The Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara has broken out and spread far west and south, situation is looking very serious, there will be a lot of loss tonight, evacuation orders extend to Goleta, refugees are moving to UCSB, and it may not be done yet.
It could be worse than the Tea Fire.

Well, I was right earlier this afternoon, when saw the fire’s edge move west and the other side come south.

I had another social event this afternoon, and came out at UCSB campus shortly before sunset, the wind had shifted and we could see the western and southern edges of the flames.

It was a truly awesome sight.
Beautiful and terrible.

The bright colours of the flames were very vivid against the darkening mountain side, and a group of us stood there outside Campbell Hall watching the fires move south into town on the eastern side, and jump across the ridges on the western side. We could actually see the “fire lanes” running down the canyons towards us and the flares as the fire came across the smaller ridges.

The fire has now jumped highway 154 on the west, and is headed into where the Gap Fire was last summer – which is good, there is less fuel there, and the fire will be easier to halt.
It would be good if crews can put out any flare ups west of the 154 before they spread.

The evacuation zone has now moved to northern Goleta, 18,000 more people ordered out this evening. “Get the Hell Out” was the order after dinner.
Traffic north on 101(N) is bad and there were some short tempers in the Goleta downtown shopping areas. Refugees are being sent to UCSB campus, the high school is full.
We’ve offered three separate people our spare room, none ended up needing it, but I expect we’ll have 1-3 people with us by tomorrow afternoon.

The little munchkin’s preschool is in the new evacuation area, and I don’t know that the big munchkin will go anywhere tomorrow. The fire is now about 5 miles east of us and a couple of miles uphill, there is a lot of builtup and cultivated land between us and there, but the fire can run along the ridges and turn down any of the canyons, so we are starting to pack essentials in case we need to leave friday night or saturday.
Fire is very unlikely to get this far, but better be prepared…
I don’t think I’ll be going down to Kavli Institute friday, the campus is going to have enough to do without random theorists wandering about.

here is the co-operative Google Map of the fire
we are out by Ellwood, north of the 101.

This is looking to be worse than last year’s Tea Fire, which was bad enough.
Though since this fire developed slowly a lot of firecrews are in here on the ground and crews are defending individual homes piecewise where they can, but they are having to fall back in some places and there are more houses than firemen.

Wind ought to die down at some point tonight, though local weatherman just said wind will stay strong past midnight.
Friday is forecast to be hot, and windy, again.

Power is flickering a little bit, and we smelled smoke earlier this evening.
Tomorrow will be interesting.

Local TV (KEYT channel 3) just went on generator and is reporting a major power outage in downtown Santa Barbara.
Figures, we finally had a babysitter…

Someone on the television said the Hope Ranch neighbourhood might be threatened, that is way down on the Mesa, fire would have to burn far through town to get there. On the other hand if embers get into the growth there, it might be hard to keep up with.

KEYT reports weather station in the mountains above Montecito has steady NE winds at 42 mph with gusts to 60+ mph. Stronger winds forecast for friday, high up on the east side.
They could easily lose this fire into the backcountry, in which case it will go on for a long time.
Maybe it will rain.

Midnight Update – Evacuation Area just moved west to Fairview, that is just since 9 pm tonight. Mile or two closer to us.
We’re packing, we’ll probably feel really silly this weekend.

PS: Fire is now south of Foothill Boulevard in spots. Confirmed on KEYT.

You know it is serious when the local officials don’t have time to actually talk to any of the reporters.

Sounds like firecrews are falling back in places.

KEYT reports at 1:30 am that the Emergency Operations Center is relocating to the UCSB campus.
Evacuation zone is apparently moved to the 101 at the Turnpike exit.
Bastards! That is where the In’n’Out burger place is!

PPS: Red Moon over Santa Barbara
h/t kos

The start of it all


  1. #1 Aaron Bergman
    May 8, 2009

    Photos here if people are interested.

  2. #2 Steinn Sigurdsson
    May 8, 2009

    nice photos!

  3. #3 Zoe Johnson
    May 8, 2009

    My thoughts are with you. I am an ex-pat Santa Barbarian in New Mexico. My kids have always said, “and you moved to New Mexico because?”. Well other than the standard retort of you wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t, I guess I have a more substantive answer now. Seriously, I have been thru many major fires and they suck. Reassure your kiddos, I still have nightmares about one in the SB foothills from when I was in preschol.

  4. #4 Steinn Sigurdsson
    May 9, 2009

    Yeah, the kids have been excited over this; were playing “firemen” in the bath tonight.
    Looks like the weather broke just in time though and this fire may be wrapping up.
    Firemen did extraordinary work thursday night holding the line on some major roads leading into the city.

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