Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 7:36 pm | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Officials List Addresses Destroyed in Tea Fire

Public's help sought in determining fire's cause. A preliminary estimate tallies 210 homes burned as more evacuation orders are lifted.

A forlorn coyote bays from the gate of a fire-damaged home at Coyote Road and East Mountain Drive, near where the Tea Fire ignited Thursday.
A forlorn coyote bays from the gate of a fire-damaged home at Coyote Road and East Mountain Drive, near where the Tea Fire ignited Thursday. (James O’Mahoney photo)


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A preliminary estimate of homes destroyed in the Tea Fire was put at 210 and authorities released the much-anticipated list of those addresses Saturday. As of Sunday morning, more than 2,200 firefighters were deployed against the 3-day-old blaze, which has burned 1,940 acres and is now 40 percent contained.

At a Saturday afternoon news conference of the Santa Barbara County Joint Incident Command, Santa Barbara fire Chief Ron Prince said a partial list of addresses was available on the Web sites of Santa Barbara County and the city of Santa Barbara. The list will be updated as information is collected.

Montecito residents can call the Montecito Fire Protection District at 805.565.8021. Information is also available from the county public information line at 805.681.5197. Noozhawk will have additional information, as well.

(Click here to see a partial list, and click here to view a preliminary map detailing which homes are lost.)

County emergency officials are requesting that all evacuees register with the American Red Cross-Santa Barbara County Chapter’s Safe and Well Program. Call 805.687.1331 to register your evacuation status, or register in person at the Red Cross emergency shelter at San Marcos High, 4750 Hollister Ave.

The fire ignited about 5:50 p.m. Thursday at the Tea House above East Mountain Drive near Coyote Road in the Montecito foothills. The cause of the fire remains under investigation and authorities are asking anyone with information to call the Sheriff’s Department anonymous tip line at 805.681.4171.

One death has been linked indirectly to the fire and there have been a score of injuries, including three burn injuries and 22 more cases of smoke inhalation.

Fire crews do an equipment check at the Tea Fire's Live Oak staging area Sunday morning.
Fire crews do an equipment check at the Tea Fire’s Live Oak staging area Sunday morning. (Starla Lago / Shooting Star Photography)
Although the fast-moving, wind-whipped blaze did most of its damage Thursday night, officials are still completing an assessment in the devastated burn area. So far, Prince said, just over 130 houses were destroyed in the city of Santa Barbara and another 80 in the county.

“That’s about the same number as the Sycamore Canyon Fire in 1976,” Prince said of the blaze, which burned in roughly the same area.

Prince said cooler weather has helped firefighters gain control of 40 percent of the fire’s perimeter, which has scorched 1,940 acres but whose footprint is essentially unchanged from Friday: Las Canoas Road on the west, Cold Spring Canyon on the east, Rattlesnake Canyon on the north and Alameda Padre Serra on the south.

As of Sunday morning, mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect for the following areas:

Eastern Boundary

» Cold Springs Road between Sycamore Canyon Road and East Mountain Drive

» Sycamore Canyon at Chelham Way (The neighborhood of Chelham, Dawlish Place, Paso Robles Drive and Stoddard Lane are open)

» Canon View Road at Sierra Vista Road

Southern Boundary

» Sycamore Canyon Road at the Five Points roundabout. (Residents on the north side of Sycamore Canyon will be allowed back in with identification.)

Western Boundary

» Las Alturas Road at Alameda Padre Serra

» Loma Media Road at Las Alturas

» Las Alturas at Conejo Road

» Stanwood Drive at Mission Ridge Road

» Stanwood at El Cielito Road

» Mountain Drive at El Cielito

» East Gibralter Road at El Cielito

» Mount Calvary Road at El Cielito

Northern Boundary

» East Camino Cielo between Painted Cave and Gibraltar roads

Roadblocks remain in effect at the following locations:

» East Mountain Drive at Cold Springs Road

» Cold Springs at La Paz Road (moved north from Cold Springs at Sycamore Canyon Road)

» Sycamore Canyon at Chelham Way

» Canon View Road at Sierra Vista Road

» Sycamore Canyon Road at the Five Points roundabout (The slide area is open to residents only.)

» Las Alturas Road at Alameda Padre Serra

» Loma Media Road at Las Alturas Road

» Las Alturas at Conejo Road

» Stanwood Drive at Mission Ridge Road

» El Cielito Road at Stanwood Drive

» East Mountain Drive at El Cielito

Fire trucks enter the Live Oak staging area after an all-nighter on the Tea Fire lines.
Fire trucks enter the Live Oak staging area after an all-nighter on the Tea Fire lines. (Starla Lago / Shooting Star Photography)
» Gibraltar Road at El Cielito

» Mount Calvary Road at El Cielito

Although 1,100 residents were allowed to return to their homes Saturday as evacuation orders were modified, more than 4,000 evacuees remain displaced from the burn area and its vicinity. Officials said residents’ frustration is understandable and they emphasized that the recovery effort is proceeding as quickly as possible.

“We are working very diligently to try to get people back into their homes,” Sheriff Bill Brown said. “We understand the frustration and the desire to get out of shelters, hotels and and friends’ homes, but it’s not safe.

“People who live in the burn area may be days away from being allowed to return,” he added. “It’s essentially like a combat zone. There are properties that have been destroyed, they need to be inventoried, and search and rescue has to go through and examine them.”

On the Thursday night it began, the Tea Fire provided a panoramic view of ferocity from the vantage point of Stearns Wharf.
On the Thursday night it began, the Tea Fire provided a panoramic view of ferocity from the vantage point of Stearns Wharf. (Art Fisher / www.aarthurfisher.com photo)
Brown said a boiled-water order remains in effect between Alameda Padre Serra, Mission Canyon and Coyote Road. Residents within the boundary are advised to use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes as a safety precaution.

Montecito fire Chief Kevin Wallace expressed gratitude for the quick response of nearby fire departments, which responded within minutes of the first report of the blaze.

Ventura County immediately sent 10 engines without even being asked,” Wallace said. “Los Padres (National Forest) sent everything on its own.”

Santa Barbara police Chief Cam Sanchez assured residents that officers would continue round-the-clock patrols to ensure that neighborhoods are safe and secure.

Looking ahead to the rebuilding process, Michael Zimmer, the county’s chief building inspector, said seven “strike teams” of inspectors already have been determining the safety of affected structures. He said he expected the assessments to be complete by Sunday.

In describing the process, Zimmer said red tags indicate a structure is unfit to be occupied; yellow tags allow limited entry, meaning residents will be allowed in to retrieve belongings; and green tags mean residents are cleared to return, pending the approval of police and fire agencies.

Meanwhile, Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum said the city is developing plans to streamline the review process with “as-built” plans.

Blum said updated fire information is available at kiosks located at Paseo Nuevo; Trader Joe’s, 29 S. Milpas St.; and outside Cox Communications at Loreto Plaza on the corner of State Street and Las Positas Road.

Homes weren’t the only casualties. The renowned Mount Calvary Retreat House & Monastery, 2500 Mount Calvary Road, was destroyed and Westmont College, 955 La Paz Road, had a harrowing brush with the blaze.

Westmont lost at least 15 faculty homes and nine structures, including four of the 17 buildings that make up Clark Halls (F, G, M and S), Bauder Hall, the physics building, the old math building and two Quonset huts. Students remained safely on campus, sequestered in Murchison Gymnasium.

“We’re so thankful everyone is out of danger and that there were no injuries,” Westmont president Gayle Beebe said Friday. “But we’re deeply saddened that 15 of our faculty families — and one retired professor — have lost their homes. Given the strength of the winds and the fire, we’re amazed the damage isn’t greater.”

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