Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 10:56 pm | Fair 66º


Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Spyglass Ridge Road Smoke Was Right There for All to See

NoozWeek’​​s Top 5 sets off the fireworks for Independence Day, expels Antioch University’​​s trustees, packs in mules for the Pine Fire, and discovers a fatal Highway 101 rollover crash

Direct hit.
Direct hit. (Chris Seaton photo)


God bless America.

In the same week we celebrated the founders of this country who “won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn,” one of us was out promoting Saddam Hussein. You may recall him as the Iraqi humanitarian who lit up hundreds of thousands of his countrymen for his own heinous reasons.

According to our Google Analytics, meanwhile, 91,493​ people read Noozhawk this past week. Here’​​s my take on your star stories:

1. Fire Burns 2 Acres in Mission Canyon Above Santa Barbara

A long, hot summer.

Less than two weeks after the Sherpa Fire reminded us how vulnerable we are with the ever-present danger of wildfire, smoke rising over the Santa Barbara foothills sure grabbed everyone’s attention on July 2.

Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said an errant weed trimmer appeared to be the cause of a brush fire that sparked about 2:25 p.m. along Spyglass Ridge Road, at the end of Tunnel Road below Inspiration Point.

The circumstances and the location evoked uncomfortable memories of the devastating 2009 Jesusita Fire.

Fortunately, this time there was an absence of wind — and the presence of an air tanker that was diverted from the Pine Fire in Ventura County. Firefighters quickly had the blaze contained at about two acres.

There were no injuries, no structural damages, and no clear evidence that anyone intended to start a fire.

Happy birthday, America. (Mike Eliason photo)
Happy birthday, America. (Mike Eliason photo)

2. Santa Barbara County Celebrates Independence Day with Fireworks, Parades, Beachfront Festivities

Near-ideal weather conditions — i.e. no lingering June Gloom — and the Fourth of July falling on a Monday made for a fantastic Independence Day, with parades, picnics and fireworks from one end of Santa Barbara County to the other.

Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.

Strike the flag. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
Strike the flag. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

3. Antioch University Abruptly Disbands Santa Barbara Board of Trustees

Over the last several years, Antioch University Santa Barbara has emerged as a leader in local higher education circles.

Thanks to newly retired President Nancy Leffert, a high-profile local board of trustees, and a marquee, state-of-the-art campus in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, Antioch has been on a roll.

That may have come to an abrupt end late last month when Antioch University’s national board of governors stepped in and apparently pulled all power back to headquarters in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

In a letter dated June 27, the national control group informed the 20 local volunteer trustees that their services were no longer needed.

“The current boards of trustees structure will end as of today,” reads the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Noozhawk. “Antioch University will now have only a single, fiduciary board as it did prior to 2009.”

Trustee boards at other local campuses — in Los Angeles, Seattle and Keene, N.H. — were similarly disbanded, and the campuses will no longer be led by local presidents.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, and more clearly it’s the wrong way to do it,” Lou Cannon, a veteran journalist, author and one of the local trustees, told our Tom Bolton.

He cited as strengths Antioch’s enrollment growth, additional degree programs and increasingly close ties to local institutions like Santa Barbara City College.

Smoke from a distant fire. (U.S. Forest Service fire)
Smoke from a distant fire. (U.S. Forest Service fire)

4. Pine Fire Continues to Rage in Ventura County Back Country

The Sespe Wilderness isn’t the easiest place to fight a wildfire, so it’s been slow-going for crews trying to corral the 2,000-acre Pine Fire in remote Ventura County. They’ve even had to rely on pack mules to get supplies.

The fire broke out June 30 in rugged terrain about 11 miles north of Ojai — as the hawk flies. So far, it’s about 30 percent contained.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

5. Santa Maria Woman, 27, Killed in Highway 101 Rollover Crash in Nipomo

A 27-year-old Santa Maria woman died in a middle-of-the-night rollover crash on Highway 101 near Nipomo on June 2.

Comfortable in her own skin, Rubi Garcia was known for 'her spontaneous personality.' (Garcia family photo)
Comfortable in her own skin, Rubi Garcia was known for “her spontaneous personality.” (Garcia family photo)

The California Highway Patrol said Rubi Garcia was driving north on the highway at about 2:30 a.m. when her 1999 Toyota RAV4 drifted off the right side of the roadway about a mile south of Tefft Street.

The vehicle rolled over several times, finally coming to rest on its roof.

Garcia was wearing a seatbelt, but the CHP said she was trapped in the wreckage and declared dead at the scene.

“She wanted to be herself and she was,” her brother, Carlos Garcia, wrote on a GoFundMe page that was established to help her family raise money for funeral expenses. “Her spontaneous personality defined her as a person and made her an easy person to talk to ...

“She told me once, ‘I am not religious, I just believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.’”

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Overnight Fire Causes $150,000 in Damage at Downtown Santa Barbara Stores.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Hole up. This is kind of cool. Anyone been here? The Ancient Aqueducts of Nazca Desert.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

“This is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.” — FBI Director Jim Comey, explaining that the concept of “equal justice under law” is ... just a word salad.

(ReasonTV video)

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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