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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 8:49 pm | Fair 54º


Tea Fire Burn Victims Still Critical But Expected to Survive

Relatives say Santa Barbara couple Lance and Carla Hoffman remain unconscious and on life support.

The conditions of a Santa Barbara couple who were severely burned in the Tea Fire improved somewhat Monday. It appears they will survive, but they are still unconscious and on life support, a family member said Monday.

Carla and Lance Hoffman, severely burned in the Tea Fire, remain on life support at an Irvine hospital, but their conditions improved Monday.
Carla and Lance Hoffman, severely burned in the Tea Fire, remain on life support at an Irvine hospital, but their conditions improved Monday. (Jim Mills photo)
Lance Hoffman, a 29-year-old security guard at Paseo Nuevo, and his wife, Carla, a manager at Metro Entertainment on West Anapamu Street, suffered second- and third-degree burns all over their bodies when leaving their rented cottage on East Mountain Drive on Thursday evening. They are being treated at the UC Irvine Regional Burn Center.

Jim Mills, Lance’s grandfather, said their body temperatures — which rose dangerously as a result of their burns — went down Monday, and their swelling improved. Doctors on Monday also were able to put to rest two major concerns about Lance: that his eyes were burned, and that the fire had damaged his lungs.

“They are still in critical condition, but also stable — that’s the best we can do for now,” said Mills, a former firefighter for the city and county of Santa Barbara.

Mills said the family isn’t sure exactly what happened to the couple, because they have been unconscious under sedation since their rescue.

The incident occurred Thursday evening, shortly after the fast-moving fire broke out on East Mountain Drive above Montecito’s Cold Spring neighborhood.

The couple apparently were running to their car from their cottage when they were overtaken by a flash fire, Mills said.

Although badly burned, the couple were able to drive themselves to Santa Barbara Fire Station No. 7, at Stanwood Drive and Mission Ridge Road.

Coincidentally, that was the station where Mills took his first firefighting job, 58 years ago. On Monday, Mills contacted the station, and talked to a man who helped the couple that day.

“He said Lance was talking coherently, but was in pain,” Mills said.

From the station, they were transported by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and later were flown by helicopter to Irvine.

Twenty-two percent of Lance’s body was burned, and 9 percent of it was covered in third-degree burns, Mills said. About 30 percent of Carla’s body was burned, though she had fewer third-degree burns, he said. Mills, who went to see them in Irvine over the weekend, said Lance appeared worse off than Carla, largely because of the major burns on his head.

Mills said he’s seen a lot of people in car wrecks, fires and other accidents, but “I’ve never seen anybody looking as bad as my grandson.

“Don’t live in brush country, man.”

Those interested in helping can send a donation to:
The Lance and Carla Burn Fund
Santa Barbara Bank and Trust
1483 East Valley Road
Montecito, CA 93108-1248

Write to [email protected]

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