Untrimmed Trees To Blame for Miguelito Fire

Cost expected to reach nearly $1 million

Untrimmed Trees To Blame for Miguelito Fire

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Fire Department says the cause of the Miguelito Fire is due to untrimmed trees coming into contact with a power line.

Coutny fire officials say a 12,000 volt power line feeding the plant contacted a tree causing embers to drop down and ignite the dry brush along the hillside.

Officials expect full fire containment by 6 p.m. Friday.

Air tankers dropping fire retardant were on standby at the Santa Maria Airport for the first call for help in the event of a fast-moving brush-fire.

The tankers and helicopters played a key role in protecting lives and property in the Miguelito Fire.

"We are throwing everything at these fire very quickly, all at once", says Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesperson Capt. David Sadecki, "instead of doing it incrementally and letting the fire get bigger and bigger and bigger, we're trying to keep these small fires small, our goal is to keep all of the fires at ten acres or less."

"Air assets are really important but it really comes down to boots on the ground", Sadecki says, "you have to have the firefighters on the ground, with the hose lines, the shovels, axes and chainsaws that really put the fires out."

The cost of fighting the Miguelito Fire, which scorched less than a thousand acres but resulted in no loss of life or property, will likely cost nearly one million dollars.

The tab will be picked up by the State of California through its main firefighting agency.

"CalFire is actually going to be picking up the cost for this fire", Sadecki says, " so each one of the individual departments will put in a reimbursement with CalFire to get reimbursed for the time that their firefighters were on this call."

As for how the Miguelito Fire started, County Fire and CalFire investigators have a "point of origin" near the old Celite, now Imersys, diatamaceous earth factory on Miguelito Road.

"Usually the fire starts and burns in a "v" pattern, so the point of the "v" is usually where the area of origin is", Sadecki says, "so we will try to avoid the area of origin and protect it as much as we can."

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