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Sherpa Fire Finally Reaches 100% Containment; Patrols Continue

Firefighters were breathing a sign of relief when it comes to the Sherpa Fire, as U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen said the blaze in Santa Barbara County was declared 100 percent contained at 6 p.m. Monday.

District fire patrols will continue to monitor the perimeter and assess interior areas until they are confident the unburned portions within the fire will not re-ignite if embers are picked up by the wind, Madsen said. 

“The Sherpa Fire is 100 percent contained, but until we have 100 percent control, our patrols will be on scene to ensure all hotspots are extinguished and there is no possibility of the fire reigniting,” said Santa Barbara District Ranger Pancho Smith.

Full control of the fire could take several more weeks, Madsen said.

“Crews will continue to drive the perimeter of areas that are a concern at all times,” he said.

Crews are working to rebuild off-highway barriers that were damaged by fire crews and bulldozers, stabilize fire lines and clean up piles of brush pushed up by bulldozers and chipping material that was cut along fire line. 

The 7,474-acre wildfire broke out on June 15 near the top of Refugio Canyon, in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Goleta.

It caused mandatory evacuations of Refugio State Beach and El Capitan State Beach campgrounds and rural neighborhoods on the Gaviota Coast.

The cause of the fire has not yet been released.

Forest officials issued an order closing the Sherpa Fire area to the public effective on July 12. Forest Service law enforcement officers will enforce the closure order, which carries a penalty of $5,000 and/or six months in jail, Madsen said. 

The forest order closes West Camino Cielo Road from Refugio Pass to the Winchester Gun Club and is scheduled to expire Dec. 1, 2016, according to Madsen.

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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