Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 7:24 pm | Fair 58º


Local News

Rey Fire Effort Winds Down, Roads Reopen as Containment Hits 96%

After another night of progress subduing the Rey Fire burning in the Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara County, fire officials announced Thursday the blaze was 96-percent contained.

Minimal fire spread was observed throughout the night and Thursday, with no growth activity reported.

Crews hope to have full containment on Monday.

“The progress has been fairly successful for the last few days,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen said. “We will have crews assigned to the fire, but because there has been no additional acreage or fire growth for the last few days, we are confident we have a handle on it.”

Firefighters continue working to keep a direct line near patches of fire on the north side, where some areas are not yet contained, largely because the rugged terrain makes it difficult for hand crews to gain access.

All Santa Barbara County road closures were lifted at 2 p.m. Thursday, including East Camino Cielo and Painted Cave Road.

“We worked as quickly as we could to remove all the obstacles to reopen those roads,” Madsen said.

The blaze started Aug. 18 along Paradise Road and burned 32,606 acres of dry grass, brush and oak canopy. Officials say the cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

Crews plan to focus their efforts on suppression repair, extinguishing, and removing burning material near control lines and patrolling the fire perimeter. Several firefighters and a helicopter will be monitoring for hot spots near the fire lines.

Firefighters have completed about 99 percent of suppression repairs to the areas used by crews to battle the blaze. The clean up includes repairs to 46 miles of roads that had been used as fire lines, 44 miles of bulldozer lines, and more than 20 miles of barriers laid down by crews.

The number of crews battling the wildfire was reduced to 224 Thursday.

Dry conditions have presented challenges to crews battling the blaze, but cooler temperatures were forecasted in the high 80s for Thursday. Fire authorities also expected the winds — up to 14 mph gusts of out of the west — to remain in their favor.

“The weather has been a good factor and worked in our favor,” Madsen said.

Residents should expect to see smoke coming from the interior of the wildfire for the next couple of weeks as crews continue to patrol the burn areas.

Wilderness area and campground closures in Los Padres National Forest were still in effect, as were Level Four fire restrictions for forest lands. 

No wood or charcoal campfires, use of gas stoves only in designated campgrounds, and no target shooting, smoking or fireworks are allowed in Los Padres National Forest.

“For the safety of everyone, there are no campfires of any kind allowed in the campgrounds,” Madsen said. “With multiple wildfires around California, it’s more indication that fuel beds are dry from the drought and it is easy for a fire to get started.”

For campground information, call the U.S. Forest Service at 805.967.3481.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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