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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 9:27 am | Fair 51º


Winds Push La Brea Fire Toward Treplett Mountain

A community information meeting is planned for Wednesday evening, and investigators seek the public's help in determining the cause of the blaze

Nearly 26,000 acres had been claimed by the La Brea Fire as of Wednesday morning, according to Los Padres National Forest officials.

On Tuesday night, strong winds of 45 to 50 miles per hour pushed the fire west toward Treplett Mountain, and even though the winds whipped up the fire’s eastern edge above Cuyama Valley, it still remains on national forest property, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The La Brea Fire has not entered the Sisquoc River area.

A community fire information meeting will be held in Sisquoc at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Benjamin Foxen Elementary School, 4949 Foxen Canyon Road.

CAL FIRE and the Forest Service are operating unified command of firefighting efforts, and more than 1,200 personnel are actively working on the blaze, which is estimated at 10 percent containment.

The operational area of Santa Barbara County sent two Strike Teams made up of 10 engines to assist with structure protection at the La Brea Fire. Six engines from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department were joined by one engine from Montecito, one from Carpentaria-Summerland, one from Santa Maria and one from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Forest Service investigators are seeking the public’s help to establish the cause of the fire, which started Saturday. Investigators have spoken to witnesses, but are seeking additional information relating to a tan or gold colored 2004-05 Chevy van that was last seen on Sierra Madre Road on Saturday afternoon. Anyone who was in that general area at the time or has other information about the origin of the fire is urged to call investigators at 805.686.5074. Callers may remain anonymous.

Evacuation orders issued Tuesday afternoon are still in effect and include a western boundary of Sierra Madre Road, Cottonwood Road on its southern boundary, Highway 166 to the east and Spoor Canyon to the north. Officials said the area includes Moon and Eckert Canyons.

An evacuation warning exists for areas bound by Cottonwood Road and Wasioja Road, and between Highway 166 and Sierra Madre Road.

The American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter has moved its La Brea Fire Emergency Shelter from Siquoc to New Cuyama. The new location is Cuyama Valley High School, 4500 Highway 166 in New Cuyama.

“Today, firefighters will focus on securing fire lines around the slop-over above Cuyama Valley, opening and reinforcing dozer lines on the west side of the fire, and building fire lines along the east side of the fire above Horse Canyon,” a morning update from the Forest Service said. “Three helibases now support the fire, one at Santa Ynez Airport, one at Santa Maria Airport and a supply helibase at the Incident Command Post. A retardent base is located at Spanish Ranch in Cuyama Valley.”

Also on Wednesday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District reissued an air quality watch for Santa Barbara County, with particular attention to the northern areas of the county.

Officials are urging the public to seek alternate routes to Highway 166 because of congestion and traffic from fire vehicles.

Parts of the Los Padres National Forest are closed, and temporary flight restrictions have been placed over the area.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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