Firefighters battle White Fire from ground, air

Fire burned through campsites in Santa Ynez Valley

Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
POSTED: 06:26 PM PDT May 28, 2013    UPDATED: 11:23 AM PDT May 29, 2013 
SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. -

The giant plume of smoke could be seen from areas up and down the coast, and the intense winds and hot weather made it difficult for firefighters.

Paradise Road was blocked off and no one could get in except for first responders heading to the fire's front lines Monday.

"This is a hard closure for all residents," said a CHP officer at the scene.

People who live in the area still wanted to get through.

"I'm trying to get home," said one woman.

"I lost everything in the Tea Fire and I don't want to go through that again," said another woman holding her dog.

The campsites along Paradise Road were burned. Farther along the road and deeper into the valley, flames were burning in dry brush. But the firefighters weren't concerned about that as much as the mountain ridge fully engulfed.

"Obviously the winds are really erratic in this drainage. So that's the biggest challenge so far, it's wind driven as well as fuels," said Eric Garcia of the U.S. Forest Service.

The wind blew dark clouds of smoke and fanned the flames. As helicopters dropped water over the fire, more crews showed up in trucks.

The camp grounds and day-use areas are usually bustling with people over the holiday weekend, but because of the White Fire, it was a ghost town.

Campers were forced to leave the area so quickly, food was left on the grill. On a nearby picnic table, cut up limes and a halved watermelon were signs of a Memorial Day barbecue that never happened.

The sky glowed red as the day went on and animals ran for safety.

As the sun went down, the fire spread to 1,800 acres, creating an ever bigger challenge for the firefighters.