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Local News

Thomas Fire Updates Roundup

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors ratified the state of local emergency on Tuesday after Director of Emergency Management Rob Lewin made the declaration on Friday

Declaring an emergency makes more county resources available to fight the fire, and can facilitate state and federal funding. 

County Fire Chief Eric Peterson told the supervisors the cost to battle the flames to date is almost $50 million, and that is expected to reach at least $120 million before the blaze is fully contained — whenever that is.

More than 7,800 fire personnel were assigned to the fire as of Tuesday night. 

“We virtually have a small army of people from across the country helping us with this fire,” Peterson added.

During the first night of the Thomas Fire, flames charred more than 63,000 acres, which is larger than the combined burned acreage of the last three major fires in the county, and on Sunday evening, more than 61,000 acres burned.

“If you think about it, just one of these runs on this fire is more than the Sherpa, Whittier and Alamo fires all put together,” Peterson said. “We are truly in unprecedented, historic territory with this fire.”

Last year’s Sherpa Fire burned 7,500 acres, while this summer’s Whittier and Alamo fires charred 18,500 and 29,000 acres, respectively. 

The Carpinteria City Council declared a state of emergency at its Monday night meeting. 

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and President Donald Trump proclaimed a presidential declaration of emergency for Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties because of wildfires, the county said Friday. 

UCSB, Earl Warren Showgrounds evacuation shelters still open and have space available

The local chapter of the American Red Cross is operating three evacuation shelters for the Thomas Fire, including one at UCSB's Recreation Center, at 516 Ocean Road. 

More than 7,000 people have evacuated their homes in Santa Barbara County, and another 34,000 people are within the evacuation warning zones, Undersheriff Barney Melekian said Tuesday.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Gina DePinto noted that there is more than enough capacity at UCSB as of Tuesday, but there are contingency plans if there is demand for additional shelters. 

Click here for evacuation area updates in Santa Barbara County. 

Earl Warren Showgrounds still has room to shelter horses and large animals, according to Jennifer Adame, county Animal Services community outreach coordinator.

As of Monday, Santa Barbara Equine Evacuation volunteers at the showgrounds had more than 400 horses, more than 20 goats, 5 pigs, 17 sheep, 3 cows, more than 10 alpacas/llamas, more than 16 chickens and 1 emu on site. 

The Santa Barbara Humane Society is currently at capacity, Adame said Tuesday, adding that the facility had 775 animals including 41 dogs, 42 cats, and "too many other species of birds, reptiles and pocket pets to list." 

Adame said dogs and cats can be brought to the Santa Barbara County Animal Services at 5473 Overpass Road in Goleta, where they have some space left.

El Capitan Ranch has space for at least 450 more farm animals, she said.

Adame urged animal owners to call the evacuation hotline at 805.681.4332 to find a facility to take their pets. 

“We are still taking in animals,” Adame said. “We are accepting animals from evacuation areas, and are prioritizing animals from mandatory evacuation areas. Those in voluntary evacuation areas who have not left should be ready, make plans for their pets, and try to make other arrangements if possible to house their animals.”

Animal owners can’t stay overnight with their pets at the Santa Barbara County Animal Services or at the Santa Barbara Humane Society, Adame noted.

Postal Service stops delivery for some areas affected by Thomas Fire

The U.S. Postal Service is making deliveries in Santa Barbara County areas "that are accessible and safe for letter carriers," spokesman Meiko Patton said in a press release Tuesday. 

Until full service is re-established, customers in evacuated and other impacted areas can retrieve their mail from their local post office. 

Residents of zip code 93108 can retrieve their mail from the East Beach Post Office at 107 Nopalitos Way in Santa Barbara, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

Residents of zip code 93105 can retrieve their mail from the San Roque Post Office at 3345 State St. in Santa Barbara, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. 

Postal customers need to bring photo ID to pick up mail and packages, Patton said. 

Santa Barbara City Council gets update on Thomas Fire impacts 

City Fire Chief Pat McElroy told the City Council that Thomas Fire crews were trying to make as much progress between now and Friday, when sundowner winds are expected to pick up and could push the flames closer to the city and populated areas.

Santa Barbara will start street sweeping on Wednesday to clean up ash dropped by the Thomas Fire, but the city won't be ticketing people who park their cars on the street during the street sweeping times. The street sweeping violations enforcement will start again on Monday, streets maintenance coordinator Nick Cabugos said. 

The city has also opened up all its downtown parking lots, free of charge, to protect workers and encourage people to eat or shop downtown. 

Many businesses have closed their doors, whether due to staffing or air quality issues, but many are still open. 

The Santa Barbara libraries downtown, on the Eastside, in Carpinteria, Goleta, Buellton and Solvang are open for regular operating hours, and the Santa Barbara branches downtown and on the Eastside have added extra programs this week to help accommodate all the children with canceled school. The Montecito location was closed Tuesday.

The Central (downtown) Library at 40 E. Anapamu St. is a distribution site for N-95 masks, "and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system keeps the air fresh and filtered," the city said in a post on the library website Tuesday.

Noozhawk staff writers Brooke Holland, Joshua Molina and April Charlton contributed reporting for 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.

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