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Local News

Firefighters Close to Completing Containment Lines for Rey Fire

The 32,606-acre blaze has not increased in size in recent days and containment is at 92%

A map of the Rey Fire shows three perimeter sections — in red — where crews were continuing to construction fire lines on Wednesday. Officials were hoping for full containment of the fire, burning in Los Padres National Forest, by day’s end. Click to view larger
A map of the Rey Fire shows three perimeter sections — in red — where crews were continuing to construction fire lines on Wednesday. Officials were hoping for full containment of the fire, burning in Los Padres National Forest, by day’s end. (U.S. Forest Service map)

Firefighters on Wednesday continued constructing fire lines on the north flank of the Rey Fire, hoping to reach their goal of full containment of the blaze in Los Padres National Forest by day’s end.

They fell just a bit short, as the fire burning deep in the Santa Barbara County backcountry was 92-percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

The size of the fire was estimated at 32,606 acres.

There were three remaining unconnected sections of containment line still under construction — east of Little Pine Mountain, along the Indian Creek drainage, and west of the Mono Creek drainage, according to Steve Parr, operations section chief for the fire.

All are areas that have difficult access and rugged terrain that hamper the work of firefighters.

“The last bit of fire line will be completed today on the northern section,” Parr said early in the day.

Containment means an adequate fuel break has been established around the fire, and hot spots in the vicinity have been doused. Some areas of vegetation in the interior of a contained fire may still be burning or smoldering, sometimes for days or weeks afterwards.

Crews also have been busy with “suppression repair,” which involves addressing the negative impacts of the firefighting efforts on the landscape.

Some 44 miles of road that was used as fire line has been repaired, along with 32 miles of bulldozer line and 14 miles of hand line.

In addition, installation of water bars, berm removal and brush chipping were continuing on secondary containment lines that were constructed along East Camino Cielo and in the Pendola area.

Signs expressing gratitude for the firefighters battling the Rey Fire have been popping up at numerous locations, including the Los Prietos Boys Camp along Paradise Road, which was evacauted at one point during the blaze. Click to view larger
Signs expressing gratitude for the firefighters battling the Rey Fire have been popping up at numerous locations, including the Los Prietos Boys Camp along Paradise Road, which was evacauted at one point during the blaze. (Mke Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

More than 530 fire personnel remained assigned to the blaze.

Management of the fire, which has been under the direction of a federal Type 1 team, is expected to revert to local control on Thursday evening.

Despite its size, only a few small structures on the remote Ogilvy Ranch were damaged by the fire, and just a handful of relatively minor injuries were reported. One firefighter was airlifted to the hospital last week after suffering a heat-related illness.

The blaze began the afternoon of Aug. 18 near the entrance to the White Rock Picnic Area along Paradise Road, in the Upper Santa Ynez River area.

The cause remained officially “under investigation,” but there are indications it was sparked when a large part of an oak tree collapsed and brought down power lines.

Paradise Road has been reopened to public use, along with most campgrounds in the area. However, wood and charcoal fires are prohibited.

Painted Cave and Gibraltar roads remain closed except to residents of those areas, and East Camino Cielo Road is still shut down to all public traffic.

Major portions of Los Padres National Forest surrounding the fire area also remain closed, including portions of the San Rafael and Dick Smith wilderness areas.

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.

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