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Saturday, March 23 , 2019, 9:01 pm | A Few Clouds 58º


Firefighters Work to Contain 250-Acre Blaze on Santa Cruz Island

Additional crews arrive to help aerial tankers attack flames; no structures damaged

A helicopter makes a water drop on the Santa Cruz Island vegetation fire Wednesday.  (Channel Islands National Park photo)

The fight to contain a vegetation fire on Santa Cruz Island continued Wednesday, as ground crews made their way to the 250-acre blaze.

It is officially a National Park Service wildfire, but the Channel Islands National Park asked the U.S. Forest Service for help bringing in firefighting crews and air support.

The fire was started Tuesday afternoon by a permitted burn pile near the main ranch on Nature Conservancy land, park spokeswoman Yvonne Menard said.

The blaze was held to 250 acres Wednesday, with multiple crews were making their way to the island by boat, in addition to the three air tankers flying out of Hemet, she said.

“The focus right now is getting all the resources out to contain the blaze,” she added.

There was no estimate of containment as of Wednesday afternoon. 

A Santa Cruz Island closure map was released Wednesday and the Channel Islands National Park said day visitor access to the island would be closed again Thursday. 

"There are currently 69 campers on the island who are restricted to travel in Scorpion Valley, and Cavern Point and Potato Harbor trails. Trail closures are in place at the road to Smuggler’s Cove, Oil Well, and Upper Scorpion Canyon," park officials said in a statement Wednesday. 

A map released Wednesday shows the fire’s location and closed areas on Santa Cruz Island. Click to view larger
A map released Wednesday shows the fire’s location and closed areas on Santa Cruz Island.  (Inciweb contributed photo)

Los Padres National Forest ordered three federal crews to help fight the fire, and was looking to see if there were additional resources, spokesman Andrew Madsen said. Most firefighting contracts run from May 1 to November, he added.

Two crews of about 20 people each arrived on the island Wednesday morning, Menard said, including Santa Barbara County and Los Padres National Forest personnel. Two more crews of 10 people each were on the way from Sequoia National Forest and Sierra National Forest, and Los Padres National Forest had ordered two hotshot crews from Mesa and Carson.

A National Park Service hotshot crew was already on the ground Tuesday, since they were conducting the permitted burns, Menard said.

CalFire was also assisting in the fire, according to the agency.

Firefighting crews coming by boat were dropped off at Prisoner’s Landing and then staged at the main ranch and UC Santa Barbara Santa Cruz Island Reserve, according to Menard.

Protective measures were being placed around structures at the ranch, and no injuries were reported, she said.

Island Packers canceled its day trip boat visits to Santa Cruz Island Wednesday, and the Channel Islands National Park closed access to Prisoner’s Harbor, Menard said.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

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.

Flames burn through the vegetation on Santa Cruz Island on Wednesday. Some 250 acres have been blackened. Click to view larger
Flames burn through the vegetation on Santa Cruz Island on Wednesday. Some 250 acres have been blackened. (Channel Islands National Park photo)

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