Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 6:04 pm | Fair 71º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Rey Fire Triples in Size Overnight in Santa Barbara County

Blaze grows from 3,000 to 10,000 acres by Saturday morning; 500 firefighting personnel are assigned to the wildfire that is moving north into Los Padres National Forest

Smoke from the Rey Fire plumes can be seen from all over southern Santa Barbara County.
Smoke from the Rey Fire plumes can be seen from all over southern Santa Barbara County.  (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

[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.]

The Rey Fire burning in Los Padres National Forest exploded in size overnight Friday to 10,732 acres by Saturday morning, according to officials.  

The U.S. Forest Service has command of the blaze, assisted by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and mutual-aid agencies from throughout the region.

Containment was estimated at 10 percent Saturday morning, down from 20 percent in previous days. 

Authorities were challenged by strong, changing winds on Friday that contributed to the growth and clearly that expansion continued into the nighttime hours. 

“We did have a lot of fire activity here today, and this afternoon with winds picking up on us,” said Manuel Madrigal, with the U.S. Forest Service, on Friday night.

There was “pretty significant growth” with the expansion to 3,000 acres by Friday night and there will be crews out all night to strengthen the containment lines and create new ones where possible, he said. 

Winds changed the fire’s direction multiple times throughout the day Friday but the actively burning areas are moving away from structures and populated areas.

“The fight will go on tonight,” Madrigal said. 

Firefighting officials are concentrating on the northeast corner of the Rey Fire Friday, which has potential for growth with hot, windy weather expected. Click to view larger
Firefighting officials are concentrating on the northeast corner of the Rey Fire Friday, which has potential for growth with hot, windy weather expected. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Authorities wanted to slow the growth of the fire Friday, which is spreading farther north into Los Padres National Forest land, but had challenges from temperatures in the mid-90s and gusty winds. 

The fire was 20-percent contained Friday night and about 500 personnel were on the scene working all sides of the fire, which is burning in rugged terrain along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez River area.

Smoke from the blaze was visible from all over southern Santa Barbara County and the Air Pollution Control District issued an air quality advisory. 

“Our main concern today is still that northeast corner,” county Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said Friday morning. “We’re hitting it real hard with aircraft, and we’re going to helicopter up a hand crew to try to do some work.”

The fire, named for the area of origin along Paradise Road near Rancho San Fernando Rey and the White Rock Picnic Area, started just after 3 p.m. Thursday.

There is no estimated time for full containment. 

“That’s going to be at the mercy of the winds,” Eliason said Friday morning.

The Rey Fire grew to 2,700 acres by Friday afternoon. Click to view larger
The Rey Fire grew to 2,700 acres by Friday afternoon.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

No structures were immediately threatened and none were damaged. 

Two firefighter injuries were reported as of Friday, one due to heat and dehydration and the other to bee stings.

Investigators haven’t released a cause of the fire, but Eliason said a tree limb did take down power lines along Paradise Road shortly before the fire was reported.

Residents of the canyon, campers and the county Probation Department-operated Los Prietos Boys Camp were evacuated along Paradise Road on Thursday afternoon and evening.

Paradise Road-area resident Rick Fish packed his car with belongings, clothing and his two dogs when he evacuated Thursday afternoon.

“I grabbed everything,” he told Noozhawk.

Afternoon winds kick up the Rey Fire in Santa Barbara County. Click to view larger
Afternoon winds kick up the Rey Fire in Santa Barbara County. (JC Corliss photo)

Fish said there were several power lines down and the “response from firefighters has been great.” He was allowed back into the area Friday, at least temporarily.

Sheriff’s deputies escorted small groups of campers back into the area to retrieve personal items Friday afternoon.

An evacuation center was set up at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and was put on standby status as of Friday morning.

There were no mandatory evacuations lifted as of Friday night. 

Paradise Road is closed but Highway 154 is open to traffic in both directions. 

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

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— This story includes reporting from Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland at the scene. Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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.

Crews from the Santa Barbara City Fire Department joined the fight against the Rey Fire that started Thursday along Paradise Road. Click to view larger
Crews from the Santa Barbara City Fire Department joined the fight against the Rey Fire that started Thursday along Paradise Road.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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