Strong sundowner winds kicked up Wednesday evening on the fifth anniversary of the devastating Tea Fire, prompting fire officials to beef up staffing and raising fire concerns for local residents.
The winds also created hazards in areas with trees. By 7:15 at least two had toppled onto cars; a palm tree fell on a truck on Alisos. No one was hurt. However, another tree toppled onto a car on Camino Del Remidio, in front of the Social Services office, trapping and injuring someone inside the vehicle.
A wind advisory is in effect until 3 a.m. Thursday morning.
Isolated gusts up to 50 miles an hour are expected in the hills of Montecito. The strongest winds will be in the mountains and passes. In other areas, the winds are weaker but sustained at 25 - 30 miles an hour.
Montecito Fire has increased staffing in the District with the addition of two Type 3 Brush engines and one additional dispatcher. The department also activated MERRAG, a network of trained volunteers.
Two unrelated traffic accidents along Highway 101 less than an hour apart sparked small fires and an aggressive response by firefighters, because of the winds.
Just after 5:30 a large truck caught on fire in the northbound lanes near Refugio Road. The California Highway Patrol had the freeway down to one lane while crews kept the flames from spreading into the brush.
Additional crews were called out to a car engulfed on the shoulder of the southbound side in Montecito near Sheffield Drive about 6:15. Flames quickly spread to the nearby brush.
The freeway is open but traffic is at a crawl.