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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 11:04 am | Fair 62º


Evacuation Orders Expanded as Whittier Fire Marches Toward Goleta

Visible flames raise alarms on South Coast after wildfire crests ridgeline high up on mountain

Flames from the Whittier Fire flare up as they burn down the mountain toward Goleta late Saturday. The photo was taken looking north from Cathedral Oaks Road in far western Goleta. Click to view larger
Flames from the Whittier Fire flare up as they burn down the mountain toward Goleta late Saturday. The photo was taken looking north from Cathedral Oaks Road in far western Goleta. (Will Macfadyen / Noozhawk photo)

As the Whittier Fire continued to rage out of control early Sunday, evacuation orders were expanded to protect more populated areas in the wildfire’s possible path.

Just after midnight, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department issued an immediate evacuation order for residents of Farren Road west of Goleta. The sparsely populated roadway off Highway 101 runs north into the foothills, and is a popular — and picturesque — climb for bicyclists and hikers.

Earlier on Saturday, mandatory evacuations were ordered for Highway 154 between Paradise Road on the east to Armour Ranch Road on the west, for West Camino Cielo between Highway 154 and the Winchester Canyon Gun Club, and for Kinevan Road off West Camino Cielo.

Highway 154 has been closed to all but emergency vehicles and evacuees between Santa Barbara and Highway 246 in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Evacuation warnings were issued for the area north of Highway 101 between Winchester Canyon in western Goleta and Las Varas Canyon about six miles to the west, as well as Paradise Road from Highway 154 to the first Santa Ynez River crossing.

Authorities said those in the warning areas should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice with family members, pets, important documents and irreplaceable items.

Anyone with special needs and large animals should be evacuated immediately, they added.

Evacuation shelters have been opened at San Marcos High School, 4750 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara, and at Santa Ynez School, 3325 Pine St. in Santa Ynez.

The Whittier Fire broke out just after 1:30 p.m. Saturday in brush near Camp Whittier, at 2400 Highway 154 near Lake Cachuma.

As of early Sunday, the blaze had grown to more than 5,400 acres and was at zero containment. Several structures reportedly have been burned at camps and ranches near Lake Cachuma but details are scant at this point.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but the California Highway Patrol said it may have been sparked by a car fire. A sheriff’s patrol vehicle that broke down along Highway 154 was a casualty of the flames later Saturday afternoon, officials said.

With the wildfire clearly visible from the South Coast as it burned along the mountaintop in the dark of night, the City of Goleta issued an alert late Saturday to reassure nervous residents.

“At this time, the fire has come over the ridge, but is still outside the City of Goleta,” the alert said, noting that city staff is closely monitoring the fire’s progress and conditions with the county Office of Emergency Management, the county Fire Department and the Sheriff’s Department.

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Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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