Miguelito Fire Evacuees Call Firefighters Heroes

Homes, animals, livestock spared in fast-moving brushfire.

LOMPOC, Calif. - Near record-breaking heat made conditions even more challenging for firefighters working the Miguelito Fire burning near Lompoc.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the state are rotating in and out of the fire zone making sure they are doing everything they can to stay safe and hydrated.

Fire crews are putting out hot spots that continue to flare up one day after the fire and creating a containment line completely around the fire zone.

There may be little smoke or flame to speak of now but the Miguelito Fire remains very much an active firefighting operation.

"It is", says Santa Barbara County Fire spokesperson Mike Eliason, "with the hot and dry conditions, and the winds are starting to pick up, these guys are going to be in for a little bit of a challenge today."

Moppping up after a large brush fire, putting out hot spots and building a containment line is tough dirty work, and if you add in the extreme heat out there, it can also be very dangerous.

"Heat exhaustion and heat stroke is always a concern on the fire lines", Eliason says, "the ground is hot, a lot of things burned here, and when you have that hot ash underneath, it can get pretty warm under those feet."

Nearby Ryon Park has been closed to the public in order to provide a close location for   firefighters coming down off the fire lines to cool off, rest and eat.

Driven by gusty winds, the Miguelito Fire spread quickly through thick and dry brush in rugged terrain Tuesday afternoon.

A fast and furious response from the air and on the ground, along with a crucial shift in the wind, kept the fire from reaching nearby homes and neighborhoods that were evacuated.

The fire scorched hundreds of acres and so far no lives or property have been lost.

There are some very grateful property owners who were evacuated that are calling the firefighters true heroes for saving their homes and animals from the fire.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from homes and ranches to escape the fast-moving Miguelito Fire.

Many had to leave pets and livestock behind to comply with the order to evacuate.

These grateful property owners are calling firefighters heroes for not only saving their homes but also their animals.

It's a heart-wrenching ordeal to leave pets and other animals behind, or not be allowed to return home to save them, during a fast-moving brush-fire like the Miguelito Fire was Tuesday afternoon.

Christine Rounds lives along Miguelito Canyon Road with her dogs, cats, horse, mule and chickens.

The fast-moving Miguelito Fire was right across the street from her home.

"They were dropping water on the house", Rounds says about the chaos as the fire spread, "firemen were in our front yard when they ordered us to leave, it was a little scary."

"It was real close, it was scary", adds Robert Bellrose who helps local kids raise FFA animals for the Santa Barbara County Fair that were also across the road from the fire.

"We came out, probably around 2:00pm,  to try and evacuate the animals as the fire was burning down the east side of the road here", Bellrose says, "the Fire Department wouldn't let us out, it was too dangerous, and so let them all out of their pens, turned around and went home, and said a couple of prayers."

The successful effort by firefighters in the air and on the ground to stop the flames from destroying homes and animals has property owners singing their praises, including Robert Bellrose who says they were able to round up all the FFA animals after being allowed back in.

"They did an awesome job", Bellrose says..

"For them to just come in and put their lives at risk to save our belongings, I think that they are the heroes of today in this society", adds Christine Rounds.

Slideshow: Miguelito Brushfire In Lompoc

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