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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 8:12 pm | Fog/Mist 58º


Wildfire Burning Above San Roque Canyon

Mandatory evacuation ordered above Foothill Road between Gibraltar and Ontare roads as firefighters brace for sundowner winds

A bomber drops a load of fire retardant.
A bomber drops a load of fire retardant.  (Jon Shafer photo / www.SantaBarbaraSurf.com)

South Coast residents were anxiously watching flames and smoke from a brush fire burning amid high winds in the Cathedral Peak area above San Roque Canyon on Tuesday afternoon, evoking uncomfortable memories of last year’s Tea and Gap fires

As the Jesusita Fire grew to 150 acres and with 40-50 mph sundowner winds forecast in the next few hours, mandatory evacuations were ordered for all neighborhoods north of Foothill Road east of Ontare Road and Morada Lane, and west of El Cielito and Gibraltar roads to East Camino Cielo. In all, 1,200 homes were affected.

More than 80 firefighters from Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara and Los Padres National Forest were battling the blaze, which was reported at 1:45 p.m. in a rugged area by the Edison towers near Inspiration Point. Water-dropping helicopters were on the scene, pulling water from Lauro Reservoir in lower San Roque Canyon, and 14 strike teams and 70 fire engines were dispatched from outside the area.

“The fire is burning in medium to heavy brush, but not exposing any structures at this point,” Santa Barbara city fire Capt. Lee Waldron told Noozhawk at 2:35 p.m. “Down-canyon winds are forecast for tonight, however.”

County fire officials said flames were threatening the Edison power lines as the blaze burned northeast, and power surges and flickering electricity were reported across the South Coast. Just before 6 p.m. the power went out to a wide stretch of downtown, eastern Santa Barbara and Montecito for about 30 minutes.

About 3:30 p.m., authorities ordered the mandatory evacuation of Holly, Spyglass Ridge and Tunnel roads, north of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road. About an hour later, that order was expanded to include all locations north of Foothill Road east of Ontare Road and Morada Lane, and west of El Cielito and Gibraltar roads to East Camino Cielo.

Evacuation warnings were issued from Coyote Road, the eastern boundary, south to Sycamore Canyon Road, west from Alameda Padre Serra to Los Olivos Street, west on Constance Avenue to State Street, west on State to La Cumbre Road, the western boundary, north to East Camino Cielo. Click here for more information on road closures, or call 805.568.3006.

View Jesusita Fire in a larger map

Residents of the Wood Glen Hall senior facility, 3010 Foothill Road, were being evacuated at 4 p.m. Marymount of Santa Barbara, 2130 Mission Ridge Road, closed early and administrative assistant Nancy Shinn said Debbi David, the head of the school, would notify parents Tuesday night about Wednesday’s schedule. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, closed at 2 p.m. as a precaution.

Temperatures were reported in the mid-80s in the area, which is about two miles west of where the Tea Fire was contained in mid-November. Waldron said that with any luck Tuesday’s fire would burn itself out into Tea Fire territory, but he cautioned that there is plenty of brush left to burn despite last year’s blazes.

Information-only reverse notification calls through the 9-1-1 system have been set up for residents between Mission Canyon and Highway 154 north of Foothill Road. The fire response is being administered by a Unified Command consisting of the Santa Barbara city and county fire departments, the U.S. Forest Service and the Montecito Fire Department.

Foothill, also known as Highway 192, has been closed between El Cielito and La Cumbre roads, Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said. All construction on Foothill near Mission Canyon Road has been suspended to allow for residents and emergency crews to pass through.

Authorities have established numerous traffic control points along Highway 192:

» La Cumbre Road

» Morada Lane

» Ontare Road

» San Roque Road

» Laurel Canyon Road

» Alamar Avenue

» Glen Albyn Road

» Tye Road

» Cheltham Road

» Mission Canyon Terrace

» Tunnel Road

» Foothill Road

» Mountain Drive

» El Cielito Road (two locations)

Early Tuesday evening, the American Red Cross-Santa Barbara County Chapter moved its emergency shelter to Dos Pueblos High School, 7266 Alameda Ave., from First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave. Click here for more information or call 805.687.1331.

A large animal evacuation center has been opened at Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real. Small animals can be taken to the Santa Barbara Humane Society shelter, 5399 Overpass Road.

Click here for additional information and fire resources at sbparent.com. Click here for additional information from the city of Santa Barbara or turn to City TV-Channel 18. Radio updates can be found at KCSB-91.9 FM; KRAZ-105.9 FM; KSYV-96.7 FM; KTYD-99.9 FM; KSBL-101.7 FM; KTMS-990 AM; KUHL-1410 AM; KINF-1440 AM; and in Spanish at KSPE-94.5 FM and KIST-107.7 FM.

Click here for a Noozhawk slide show. If you have fire photos to share, e-mail them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Click here for additional citizen reports from City2.0.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Noozhawk staff writers .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and Michelle J. Wong contributed to this report.

(Jack Kimball / Noozhawk video)

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