Sherpa fire one year later through the eyes of Refugio Canyon ranchers

Circle Bar B missed as flames raced through

Sherpa Fire one year later

REFUGIO CANYON, Calif. - At the Circle Bar B Ranch owner Kathy Brown and her family could not believe the wall of fire coming towards them one year ago when the Sherpa fire broke out.  Today, all of their buildings remain standing and the classic site is reporting strong business.

"It's been in our family for 70 years," said Brown.   

She recalls the wind whipped flames coming down from the hills above her property and towards their ranch that has rustic cabins, a western bar and horse corrals.

It's about three miles up the road from Highway 101.

The fire then veered east, chewing up hills across the front country. Santa  Barbara County firefighters arrived quickly to defend the property.  No structures were lost.

The fire burned for about a month, near ranch homes, oil facilities, and the El Capitan resort where it was stopped.   It burned 7474 acres.

Investigators say the fire was started accidentally when a resident at the La Sherpa ranch seven miles up the road, moved a hot log from the fireplace to an outside area.

After the fire the winter rains burst down the canyons causing more damage to the riding trails and weeks of work to get them back open.

Now the famous rides for half day and full day trips are getting booked and the trails are fully open.   Pat Brown has been saddling the horses and taking guests out to what he says are spectacular views from the hills on their ranch towards the Santa Ynez mountain range and the Pacific Ocean.

The ranch is also very popular for weddings, corporate events and overnight stays.

Nearby the El Capitan resort has also fully reopened with cabins, trails, and a summertime concert series.   It is on the mountain side of the freeway and is separate from the  state beach campground.

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