Gap Fire nearly out


The Gap Fire was nearly 100 percent contained by mid-month, according to a statement issued by the Santa Barbara Ranger District for the Los Padres National Forest.

The fire, which consumed nearly 9,500 acres of brush, forest, and agricultural land, at one time threatened more than 4,000 homes in Goleta and caused the evacuation of thousands of homes.

Although the fire had the potential of causing massive damage to residential areas abutting the forest, firefighters fought the blaze by land and air, keeping the most dangerous flames away from homes.  Despite sundowner winds early in the fire, only four small outbuildings were destroyed.

At its height, more than 1,400 firefighters, dozens of bulldozers, and a dozen or more aircraft fought the fire in the foothills north of Goleta. State officials said that the human-set blaze cost nearly $20 million to fight since starting in the late afternoon on July 1.


Although a number of neighborhoods were evacuated during the fire, by July 14 the only mandatory evacuation that remained were for the area of West Camino Cielo west of Windermere Ranch.  There is also a closure of all national forest lands south of Highway 154 and East Camino Cielo between Gibraltar Road and Refugio Road. 

During the fire, about 233 acres of avocado orchards were destroyed or damaged, according to a statement from William D. Gillette, Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner.  Gillette said that the immediate loss was more than $1 million, including replacement costs for the lost trees, new farm equipment, and irrigation lines.  He estimated that total losses will be about $9.5 million during the next five to seven years when lost production is included.