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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 8:34 pm | Fair 50º


Mountain Residents Return Home

Most evacuation orders are lifted as firefighters gain ground on the week-old, 9,800-acre blaze.

One week after the Gap Fire began, just one mandatory evacuation order remained in effect Tuesday night. The nearly 9,800-acre blaze was 55 percent contained but still raging in the sparsely populated mountains north and west of Goleta.

Earlier Tuesday, residents were cleared to return to their homes in the mountain communities of Haney Tract, Hidden Valley, Kinevan Road, Trout Club and Windemere Ranch. Only West Camino Cielo between Windermere and the actual fire remain under mandatory evacuation. West of Goleta, meanwhile, evacuation warnings were still in effect for Dos Pueblos Ranch, Eagle Canyon, Santa Barbara Ranch and Tecolote Canyon. Painted Cave also remains under a warning.

A power outage that affected parts of the Goleta Valley about 10 a.m. Tuesday was blamed on the fire, which had made a run under transmission lines.

The Gap Fire started July 1 near the Lizard’s Mouth hiking area on West Camino Cielo near the Winchester Canyon Gun Club. Officials have said the fire was caused by humans but have refused to say whether it was accidentally or intentionally set. The blaze remains under investigation and a 24-hour tip line — 805.961.5710 — has been established to receive information on the origin. No arrests have been made.

To date, six people have been injured and four structures have been destroyed, none of them homes. The blaze has cost $12.6 million in firefighting resources and more than 1,100 firefighters remain on the scene, backed by 15 bulldozers, nine water-dropping helicopters and five air tankers. Officials could not predict when it would be fully encircled.

In other Gap Fire news:

» The American Red Cross Santa Barbara County Chapter evacuation center remains open for residents and pets at San Marcos High School, 4750 Hollister Ave. By Tuesday afternoon, most evacuees had packed up and gone home.

» Several information kiosks are being used to distribute fire and road closure updates. Kiosks in Goleta are at Calle Real Center in front of Trader Joe’s, 5680 Calle Real; Camino Real Marketplace, 7004 Marketplace Drive; the Fairview Shopping Center, 175 N. Fairview Ave.; the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave.; and the Old Town 7-Eleven, 5810 Hollister Ave. In Isla Vista, a kiosk is at Embarcadero Hall, 928 Embarcaderso del Norte. And kiosks are in Santa Barbara at La Cumbre Plaza near Sears, 121 S. Hope Ave.; Paseo Nuevo, 700 State St.; San Marcos High; the Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna St.; and Stearns Wharf.

(Erika Bildsten map)

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» Summer session classes at Dos Pueblos High, 7266 Alameda Ave., have been moved to La Colina Junior High, 4025 Foothill Road, for the next two weeks. MTD will continue to provide bus service for students.

» Los Padres National Forest lands south of Highway 154 and East Camino Cielo between Gibraltar and Refugio roads have been closed until the Gap Fire is suppressed. The closure prohibits all public entry to national forest lands, trails, roads and recreation sites, but it does not apply to private land.

» Because most of the evacuation orders have been lifted, Santa Barbara County officials at 8 p.m. Wednesday will shut down the Gap Fire public information line at 805.681.5195, county spokesman William Boyer said Wednesday. But the Los Padres National Forest Service has a line that can still be reached at 805.961.5770.

» sbparent.com, Santa Barbara’s parents’ resource Web site and a Noozhawk partner, has a comprehensive update on summer camps and the fire’s effects on specific programs. Click here for more information.

» A citizens Web site, www.thanksgapfirefighters.com, has been dedicated to firefighters battling the Gap Fire. Click here to leave a post.

Click here for up-to-the-minute reports from the Incident Information System. Click here to join the county Fire Department’s “Red Flag Zone 1” Google discussion group and to receive red-flag alerts.

For more information, watch Channel 19 Goleta TV or click here for the city of Goleta Web site.

Additional information can be found on county government cable TV station Channel 20, or the following AM or FM radio stations: AM stations KTMS 990, KUHL 1410, KZSB 1290 and KINF 1440; FM stations KCSB 91.9, KSPE 94.5 (Spanish), KSYV 96.7, KTYD 99.9, KSBL 101.7, KRAZ 105.9 and KIST 107.7 (Spanish); and San Marcos Pass Radio 1040 AM.

For the most complete fire coverage, however, check back frequently with Noozhawk, which is updated throughout the day and night.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at [email protected] Local student Erika Bildsten is a Noozhawk contributor.

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