SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Extreme drought conditions and dry weather have the Central Coast on alert for fire danger. Several areas are being closely watched as hazard spots. All of this is happening at a time of the year when fires usually aren't much of a concern.
One of the most elusive things on the Central Coast right now, and in the entire state, is rain. It's prompting something you don't typically see in the beginning of January, when our so-called rainy season is supposed to be fully underway: high fire danger warnings.
The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management expects especially dry conditions throughout the weekend, putting some areas on high alert. The Los Padres National Forest is one of them.
Homes along the San Marcos Pass are no strangers to wild fires. Homeowners like Ishmiel Lounsbury are fully aware of what they are facing.
"We're always thinking about fire up here and trying to brush clear and keep a safe space around our property in case there is a fire," says Lounsbury.
Lounsbury has lived in the dense forest area for years. He says this is one of the driest winter seasons he's ever seen.
"It's sort of one of those double takes where you're thinking you're through the fire season but actually you're in the most intense fire time of the year," says Lounsbury.
Like everyone else, he's hoping that changes.
"We're really waiting and praying for rain and hoping we're going to get some water pretty soon, but nothing so far," says Lounsbury.
The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management says cooler and more humid weather is expected by next Wednesday and Thursday. With that there will hopefully a drop in the potential for wildfires.