7/30/2007

 

 

 

Honorable Board Members and residents of

Santa Barbara County

 

7/30/2007

 

The Zaca Fire remains very active and has challenged some of our control lines on the east and southeast fronts, slightly breaching dozer breaks below the peak of McKinley Mountain and Black Canyon to the southeast of McKinley. The Peachtree residences below McKinley remain in evacuation order status and Happy Canyon remains in evacuation warning status. We are taking opportunities where we can to attack the fire's edge directly with hand crews and using air tankers and helicopters where it is too unsafe to directly insert our firefighters. Our tactics have been successful so far at "corralling" the fire's path and keeping it directed into the Los Padres National Forest and away from our populated areas. There is still danger though and great potential for the fire to change course toward populated areas due to the normal summer weather conditions (erratic mountain winds, high heat and low relative humidity). When you factor in the historically dry fuel, the dense and continuous fuel beds, and the steep, inaccessible, broken terrain where the fire is burning, the ingredients add up to a stubborn fire that exhibits extreme burning conditions.

As the fire reaches one month of active burning we need to be cognizant of the fact that this fire is approaching record territory in duration, and until we have 100% containment, there is potential that the Zaca Fire could approach record territory in acreage as well. We remain active in building contingency protection lines well out ahead of the path of the fire and our entire team of many cooperating firefighting agencies are taking every opportunity that we can to box it in.

We held individual community awareness meetings for residents of the Santa Ynez Valley and Tepusquet Canyon to inform those communities of current and projected fire conditions. We gave those communities an understanding of what the fire is doing, what it may do, and what we are doing about it. We addressed their concerns and answered all of their questions. We have also been formulating evacuation and structure protection plans for all of the communities that have been in the fire's potential path. In the cases of Peachtree, Happy Canyon and the Woodstock areas we have acted on those plans, instituting evacuations as the fire front crossed our pre-established "trigger points" and inserting "strike teams" of structure protection firefighters and engine companies.

We will continue to be proactive. We are planning to provide a community awareness meeting for the Paradise, Painted Cave, Rosario Park and Camino Cielo communities. The need for and timing of this meeting is dependent on fire activity, which will continue to be evaluated. Working with the Forest Service and our other cooperators we are doing everything we can to keep the Zaca Fire out of our urban-interface residential areas. We want to reinforce our message that our residents must maintain their minimum 100 foot defensible space around their homes, be watchful for reverse 911 phone messages and media alerts, and have their families  / animals / belongings prepared for evacuation as they will be alerted to do should it become necessary.

Thank you,

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department

www.sbcfire.com