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Bill Macfadyen: Sherpa Fire Alarm Ignites Red-Hot Noozhawk Traffic Surge

A cherry Chevy mashup, a bear down, an axe-wielding camper and gunshot reports round out NoozWeek’​s Top 5

Pretty impressive. Click to view larger
Pretty impressive. (Ron Williams photo)

​​​

Good luck to the UC Santa Barbara baseball team as the Gauchos take on Oklahoma State on June 18 in their first-ever College World Series.

My cheerleading worked last week, and in the most dramatic way possible, so I figure I’​ll try again. Baseball players are a superstitious lot, after all.

Drawn to the flames, meanwhile, there were 140,260 people who read Noozhawk this past week. Based on our Google Analytics, here’​s my take on your top stories.

1. Wind-Whipped Sherpa Fire Surges to 1,200 Acres, Threatens Structures Along Gaviota Coast

Fire season is upon us, and, boy, did it start with a bang.

The afternoon of June 15, the Sherpa Fire broke out high up in Refugio Canyon on the Gaviota coast. More than 1,200 firefighters, backed by a fleet of aircraft, were deployed to the rugged area but the intermittently wind-whipped blaze is still raging out of control nearly 48 hours after it started.

Highway 101 was shut down along the Gaviota coast for two nights in a row as flames burned perilously close to the pavement, and even in the median.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the campgrounds at Refugio and El Capitán state beaches; houses and ranches in Refugio, Las Flores, Venadito and El Capitán canyons; and El Capitán Ranch and Ocean Mesa at El Capitán.

Evacuation warnings were issued all the way to Farren Road, about seven miles to the east on the far western edge of Goleta.

The first night, firefighters took advantage of defensible space surrounding the Las Flores Canyon oil and gas processing plant to keep the harm away.

The next day, flames came within a mile of the late President Ronald Reagan’​s beloved Rancho del Cielo, at the top of Refugio Canyon, before shifting course.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.​ As of early June 17, it had grown to 4,000 acres with not even minimal containment.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen said the remote area has been untouched by fire for decades. Throw in a stubborn drought and strong, gusty winds and volatile sundowners, and you’​ve got yourself a disaster waiting to happen.

A second brush fire ignited near Knapp’​s Castle off East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara the afternoon of June 16, but firefighters quickly kept it contained to about an acre

Noozhawk’​s text alert about the Knapp’​s Castle fire came just as a particularly heavy cloud of Sherpa Fire smoke was drifting across downtown. Within about an hour, Tom Bolton’​s report had rocketed into our top stories rankings, joining his two other fire articles in the Top 3.

Click here to sign up for free Noozhawk text alerts to your cell phone.

Meanwhile, Noozhawk readers and #hashtaggers are sharp-eyed editors so I know you noticed the discrepancy in the spelling of Sherpa, which initially was spelled Scherpa. That wasn’​t us!

The fire ignited near Rancho La Scherpa Christian Conference Center in the 2500 block of Refugio Canyon Road, and it was the Forest Service that took it literally in the rush to come up with a moniker. Logic eventually prevailed, and the name was changed to Sherpa.

THAT really hurts. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)
THAT really hurts. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

2. Suspected DUI Driver Arrested After Hitting Parked Vehicles in Santa Barbara

A classic Chevy pickup truck took the brunt of the crunch when a suspected drunken driver slammed his SUV into it early June 12 on Santa Barbara’s Upper Eastside.

The force of the impact shoved the pickup into a van parked behind it in the 2400 block of Santa Barbara Street.

A bystander, who happened to be retrieving his belongings from the pickup cab at the time, was injured enough to be taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. He’s quite lucky that they made his truck like they used to.

According to police Sgt. Todd Johnson, 19-year-old Daniel Dewan was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving causing injury and possession of marijuana.

Too bad there’s no charge related to the destruction of the vintage vehicle, because that is a real crime.

Johnson said Dewan was not hurt in the collision, and the name and condition of the victim were not disclosed.

Bear down. (John Pomeroy / KEYT News photo)
Bear down. (John Pomeroy / KEYT News photo)

3. Large Black Bear Struck and Killed on Highway 101 in Goleta

A big-ass bear was struck and killed by a bigger rig on Highway 101 in Goleta on June 13, the second incident in a month involving a bear in Goleta.

According to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Shawn Stevens, the black bear — which weighed an estimated 300 to 400 pounds — was crossing the northbound lanes west of Glen Annie Road when the semi truck ran into it just before dawn.

The bear died at the scene, Stevens said. The truck driver was unhurt, and his rig had only minor damage.

On May 11, a black bear was discovered roaming through western Goleta neighborhoods, peering into windows as it ambled about. It eventually was tranquilized and relocated to Los Padres National Forest backcountry.

“This was not the same bear,” Stevens told Noozhawk. “That bear was much smaller. This one was much bigger and older.”

Don’​t move, Hatchet Man. (Charles Ball photo)
Don’​t move, Hatchet Man. (Charles Ball photo)

4. Ax-Wielding Man Arrested after Rampage at Santa Ynez River Campground​

Nature is supposed to be relaxing, but a camper in the Santa Ynez River Recreation Area apparently missed the trail sign and, well, went berserk last weekend.

​According to Santa Barbara County sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, deputies and firefighters were dispatched to Paradise Campground, at 5050 Paradise Road, about 3:45 p.m. June 11 after receiving multiple reports of a camper on a rampage — possibly under the influence of a controlled substance.

She said the suspect — later identified as 25-year-old Ilya Yegudkin of Los Angeles — reportedly was “wielding two axes and had thrown them at people.”

“As deputies were responding, they also learned that the camper had cut up his tent, vandalized a car, and had assaulted several campers, including his own friends as well as an elderly male who was sitting in his truck,” Hoover added.

County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said firefighters arrived first, and the suspect promptly charged at them.

When deputies arrived, “Yegudkin was extremely combative and fought with deputies,” Hoover said. “During the struggle to detain him, one deputy received a facial laceration.”

She said deputies eventually were able to subdue the man by using less lethal methods of force.

Yegudkin was injured during the altercation, and Hoover said he was transported to and then admitted at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

He was booked in absentia on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, felony resisting arrest, battery causing serious injury and physical elder abuse, she said.

On June 13, he posted $50,000 bail and was released from custody, although he remained hospitalized.

The District Attorney’s Office will be reviewing the case.

5. Santa Barbara Police Search San Roque Neighborhood After Gunshots Reported​

Police swarmed Santa Barbara’s San Roque neighborhood the morning of June 14 after witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots.

A three-hour search turned up nothing, however, so about all they could do was write it up as a case of “suspicious circumstances​.”

Lt. Ed Olsen told our Giana Magnoli that witnesses reported the gunfire about 8 a.m. somewhere around the 3500 block of Madrona Drive, two blocks north of State Street between North Ontare Road and Toyon Drive.

Officers conducted a house-by-house search and checked nearby businesses on State Street but found no evidence or injuries.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Bill Macfadyen: Dead Man Hanging Not What You Expect to Find on the Trail.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

She told him to stop leaving his drawers on the floor: Wife Tries to Poison Husband Through His Underwear.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

I need to get Riley the Wonder Malamute to do one of these videos. Until then, here’s Clyde, talking cats. HT to my daughter, Kirsten Macfadyen.

(Talking Animals video)

                                                                  •        •        •

How You Can Help Noozhawk

If you really like what you’re seeing on Noozhawk, you can help support our work by joining our Hawks Club. High-quality journalism doesn’t come cheap, and each donation helps us continue to provide you with unmatched local news and in-depth reporting on the issues that you care about.

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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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