Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 10:02 pm | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

Local News

1,000 Acres Charred by Rey Fire Burning Along Paradise Road

Wind-driven blaze in Los Padres National Forest grows to 1,000 acres overnight, still 20% contained Friday morning; canyon evacuated as flames move away from populated areas

A tanker makes a drop on the Rey Fire that burns along Paradise Road Thursday afternoon. Click to view larger
A tanker makes a drop on the Rey Fire that burns along Paradise Road Thursday afternoon.  (Diego Topete / Noozhawk photo)
Flames from a fire along Paradise Road burn along a ridge above the Santa Ynez River Thursday afternoon. Click to view larger
Flames from a fire along Paradise Road burn along a ridge above the Santa Ynez River Thursday afternoon.  (Diego Topete / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a gallery of fire photos]

At least 1,000 acres have been charred by a wind-driven vegetation fire that broke out Thursday afternoon along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez River area.

The fire, reported shortly after 3 p.m., began in the vicinity of Rancho San Fernando Rey and the White Rock Picnic Area.

As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, authorities said the blaze, dubbed the Rey Fire, had burned an estimated 1,000 acres and was still at 20-percent containment. 

High temperatures and winds were a concern for Friday afternoon, with a firefighting focus on the northeast corner of the fire, according to Mike Eliason, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department was escorting groups of campers into Paradise Road to retrieve personal belongings on Friday and people can meet at Paradise Store at 1 Paradise Road just off Highway 154. 

The window for getting items could be short due to the changing wind and fire conditions, and authorities warned people to plan to retrieve items before 4 p.m. Friday. 

About 300 people were evacuated from campgrounds and residences throughout the canyon Thursday night.

Also evacuated was the Los Prietos Boys Camp.

Cause of the fire remained under investigation, but Eliason noted that a broken tree limb brought down a power line along Paradise Road shortly before the fire broke out, and a power outage was reported about that same time.

A downed power line may have sparked the Rey Fire, which charred some 600 acres Thursday along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez River area. Click to view larger
A downed power line may have sparked the Rey Fire, which charred some 600 acres Thursday along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez River area. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

No structures had been damaged, but dozens remained threatened to the south and west of the blaze, Eliason said Thursday night.

About 200 firefighting personnel were on scene overnight and 304 people were working the blaze Friday morning. 

Throughout Thursday afternoon, winds were driving the flames to the north and west, away from the Santa Ynez River, Eliason said, noting the fire was burning in rugged terrain.

"The winds are favorable right now, " Eliason said. "It's not burning toward the front country. That's working in everyone’s favor."

Temperatures at their peak were in the 90s, with very low humidity.

Aircraft worked to create a line of fire retardant along the ridge.

"They're trying to contain the fire in a box between the river and ridge," Eliason said. 'They're trying to paint the ridge with retardant. They don’t really want it to get into that open land beyond."

Fire managers were hoping to keep the flames away from Old Man Mountain and Alexander Peak to the north, Eliason said, "because if it gets there it could really take off."

A vegetation fire along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez River area had burned an estimated 500 acres Thursday afternoon. Click to view larger
A vegetation fire along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez River area had burned an estimated 500 acres Thursday afternoon. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, Eliason said. 

One was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital suffering dehydration, and another was stung by multiple bees but was not hospitalized.

Highway 154 was shut down Thursday from Cathedral Oaks Road/Highway 192 to Highway 246 near Santa Ynez, but reopened shortly before 9 p.m.

Smoke from the fire was visible from throughout the South Coast and much of the Santa Ynez Valley.

U.S. Forest Service and Santa Barbara County firefighters were battling the fire, along with mutual-aid resources from several agencies.

Numerous aircraft, including the DC-10 air tanker, were on scene or en route, Eliason said.

Twenty fire engines were on scene, and another 25 had been ordered, Eliason said.

Other resources assigned to the blaze included three bulldozers, three hand crews (with 10 more on order), two helicopters, and four fixed-wing aircraft.

Some 250 personnel were assigned to the Rey Fire, a number that was expected to grow to 500 by Friday.

An evacuation centers was set up at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School at 2975 E. Highway 246, county public information officer Gina DePinto said.

A center had also been set up at San Marcos High School near Goleta, but was shut down once Highway 154 reopened.

The Santa Ynez High School location was placed on standby status Friday morning.

There is an animal services hotline for anyone in the fire area needing assistance evacuating animals, including horses, at 805.681.4332. 

The Air Pollution Control District issued an air quality watch Thursday afternoon due to smoke from the fire. 

"Smoke from the Rey Fire off Paradise Road may affect air quality in the Santa Ynez Valley and other parts of the county, depending on winds and weather conditions, and the containment of the fire," the district said in a statement.

Click here for an interactive fire map from ENPLAN. Zoom in and click the fire symbols for further details about the Rey Fire and its progression.

Click here for Santa Barbara County air quality monitoring and more information. 

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Rey Fire footage from KEYT.com from Noozhawk on Vimeo.

An air tanker makes a retardant drop on the Rey Fire, which had charred some 600 acres along the Upper Santa Ynez River as of Thursday night. Click to view larger
An air tanker makes a retardant drop on the Rey Fire, which had charred some 600 acres along the Upper Santa Ynez River as of Thursday night. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

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