Whittier Fire containment at 83%

16 homes and 30 other structures destoryed

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - July 21, 2017

[6:45 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire stays at 18,430 acres, but containment now at 83%. 1,265 personnel currently assigned to the fire.

July 20, 2017

[6:52 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire grew overnight slightly to 18,430 acres. Containment remains at 76%.

No forward fire progression is expected on the eastern and western sides of the fire. Interior islands will continue to burn and rollout, and hot material rolling across the line could challenge containment but fire crews are optimistic.

The Whittier Fire continues to move slowly downslope along the frontcountry. At this point, grass will continue to be the main fuel for the fire. Minimal fire spread is expected in the next 24 hours.

Crews continue to work on mop-up and suppression repair along containment lines. Resource Advisors are in place to map and protect sensitive natural and cultural resources within the areas affected by the Whittier Fire.

All equipment no longer needed is being retrieved for future incidents. As the Whittier Fire activity dies down, fire resources are being reassigned to other fires. In total, 1,520 personnel are currently assigned to the Whittier Fire.

Check back throughout the day for additional information and the latest fire maps.


July 19, 2017

[6:45 p.m. PDT] - Containment of the Whittier Fire increase slightly to 76% while acreage remained at 18, 395. The number of total personnel assigned to the fire is now 1,520.

The fire is still expected to continue to back down coastal slopes toward the Goleta front country. Crews are actively engaged on the fireline with a proactive attack aiming to take away unused fuel from the fire.

Crews continue working on putting out hot spots on south and western sides of the fire. Firefighters are also working on containing a small part of the western side of the fire. Multiple aircraft will continue to be in the area during daylight hours.

[6:16 a.m. PDT] - Containment increased to 75% on the Whittier Fire. Acreage also increased overnight to 18,395 acres burned. The fire grew approximately 60 acres overnight along the southern edge.

In all, 16 homes were destroyed, 1 home was damages, 30 outbuildings were destroyed by the fire and 6 others were damaged.

Light smoke was visible on Tuesday from the northwest side of the fire. On the western edge, fire crews increased containment even as the fire continued to creep slowly downhill. Firefighters continued directly attacking the fire with targeted water drops on hotspots.

MAP#1: View the Wednesday, July 19, 2017 Whittier Fire map here.

MAP#2: View the Wednesday, July 19, 2017 Whittier Fire map here.

Construction of primary and secondary bulldozer lines continues.

The northern edge is in patrol and mop-up work. Firefighters will continue to use aerial attacks where terrain is otherwise inaccessible by ground crews.

Crews expect weak high pressure that will remain over the fire area for the next several days, which will allow fog and low clouds to settle over lower and middle elevations of the fire at night and early morning.

A road closure is still in place for West Camino Cielo from Winchester Gun Club to Refugio Road. The San Marcos High School evacuation shelter located at 4750 Hollister Avenue near Goleta will be closing Wednesday.

Check back throughout the day for continued updates, maps, and other information.


July 18, 2017

[6:30 p.m. PDT] - Containment continues to grow. The Whittier Fire is now 66% contained while acreage remains at 18, 331 as of Tuesday evening. 

The fire is creeping slowly downhill on the western edge with firefighters attacking the blaze head on with targeted water drops and hotspots. Crews continued primary and secondary bulldozer lines. Wind gusts in the Las Lagos and Gato Canyon area increased fire activity, according to Unified Command.

On the eastern edge, fire crews continue to work the containment line in Bear Creek Canyon. The northern edge is in patrol and mop-up status as lines continue to hold. Suppression repair has begun in this area.

See a map of the Whittier Fire from Tuesday, July 18, 2017 here.

During the daylight hours, water-dropping helicopters and fixed-wing air tankers supported crews in putting out hotspots.

Personnel assigned to the Whittier Fire continue to decrease. 1,749 personnel are now fighting the fire including 50 fire crews, 62 fire engines, 33 water tenders, 4 masticators, 16 helicopters, and 15 bulldozers.

Weak high pressure aloft will remain over the fire area for the next several days. This will allow the weather pattern to be dominated by marine influences including fog and low clouds at night and early morning over lower and middle elevations of the fire while the higher terrain will remain clear.

Temperatures and relative humidity trends will show little day to day change through mid-week.


[6:26 a.m. PDT] - Containment on the Whittier Fire jumps to 62%.  Acreage rises to 18,331 according to Unified Command.

Improving weather conditions on the south side of the Whittier Fire have allowed firefighters to safely begin constructing fireline directly on the fire's edge. Due to the improvement in the firefighting efforts, Evacuation Orders for residents in the Goleta front country were downgraded to a Warning. See information here.

Crews working on the eastern side completed a containment line in Bear Creek Canyon, which prevented the fire from crossing the creek. The northern side is transitioning to patrol and mop-up as the fire continues backing down slope on the western and southern perimeters.

As the weather continues to cooperate, minimal fire spread is expected due to high humidity.

The total number of personnel fighting this fire has decreased to 1,934 including: 43 fire crews, 127 fire engines, 35 water tenders, 4 masticators, 4 fixed wing aircraft, 16 helicopters, and 15 bulldozers.

See a map of the Whittier Fire from Tuesday, July 18, 2017 here.


July 17, 2017

[6:28 p.m. PDT] - Containment on the Whittier Fire jumps to 62%. Acreage continues to hold at 18,311 acres.

[6:25 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire has now burned 18,311 acres and remains 49% contained. 

The fire is smoldering on the northern flank. On the eastern and western sides of the fire, crews expect flanking runs as the main fire backs into drainage bottoms and aligns with slopes.

Tactical firing operations may be used to eliminate unburned fuels near containment lines. The eastern side of the fire is established in the bottom Bear Creek, however, the fire has not crossed the creek according to Unified Command.

View July 17, 2017 Whittier Fire evacuation map here.

The fire is backing down the southern slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Helicopters and fixed-wing air tankers continue to support ground crews as needed to help put out hot spots.

A total of 2,271 personnel are assigned to the Whittier Fire including: 53 fire crews, 144 fire engines, 35 water tenders, 4 masticators, 4 fixed wing aircraft, 16 helicopters, and 18 bulldozers.

Crews expect dry and warm weather over the region Monday with temperatures and humidity showing little change over the mountains. The coastal section of the fire will see increasing offshore winds according to Unified Command officials. A slight cooling trend will develop as the high-pressure system moved towards the east with winds over the peaks coming from the northwest to north direction.

View a fire map for Monday, July 17, 2017 here.

One residence and six structures were damaged. 16 homes and 30 other structures were destroyed. Buildings such as detached garages, barns, bunkhouses and other improvements form part of the 30 structures destroyed by the Whittier Fire.

Check back throughout the day for continued updates, maps and other pertinent information about Monday's firefighting efforts.


July 16, 2017

[8:06 p.m. PDT] - 18,015 acres burned and now progressed to 49% containment. Fire crew personnel also grew to 2, 271 firefighters dispatched. Crews currently completing tactical firing operations to take care of future risks near the containment lines. Main flames have been established in Bear Creek and firefighters are working to keep it on the western side of the canyon.

The eastern side of the fire is established in Bear Creek and crews are working to keep it on the western side of the canyon. The western perimeter of the fire is backing into established containment lines. Helicopters and fixed-wing air tankers are supporting ground crews as needed to help cool hot spots.

Dry and warm air will remain over the region today and Monday with temperatures and humidity trends showing little change over the mountains. The coastal section of the fire will see increasing onshore winds allowing some cooling on Monday and Tuesday. Temperatures near Santa Ynez peak are expected to reach 79.

[5:35 p.m. PDT] - California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in Santa Barbara County on Sunday due to the Alamo Fire and Whittier Fire.

Following suit, at 2.30 p.m. Sunday, Santa Barbara County officials proclaimed a local emergency due to the wildfires. Full details here.

[5:30 p.m. PDT] - Highway 154 officially opened to the public as of 5 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters have spent several days mopping-up hot spots and removing hazards such as rocks and fire-damaged trees. CHP and other law enforcement agencies will continue to patrol the area,

The Evacuation Order on Paradise Road from Highway 154 to the first river crossing is now under a Warning.

Evacuation Orders remain in place for: West Camino Cielo at Highway 154 to Winchester Gun Club and Kinevan Road, Rosario Park and all of Stagecoach Road, all of Winchester Canyon Road excluding the community of Wagon Wheel, Langlo Ranch Road and Winchester Commons, west to El Capitan Ranch Road, and Calle Real north to West Camino Cielo, from Winchester Canyon Road on the east to El Capitan Ranch Road on the west. This includes all roads and trails within the area of the order

The Whittier Fire will continue to smolder for some time. These “smokers” are well inside the perimeter of the burn and do not pose a threat to the fireline.

[6:20 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire increased to 18,015 acres overnight while containment remained the same at 36%.

The higher humidity levels are allowing firefighters to look at Whittier Fire square in the eye and take the fight directly to it. Limited burning along constructed firelines are part of Sunday's operations weather permitting, according to Unified Command.

The eastern side of the fire is established in Bear Creek so expect slow driven runs if the fire crosses the drainage. Firefighters will focus on constructing additional firelines at Bear Creek below West Camino Cielo and tightening the drainage at Bear Creek.

View map of evacuation areas here

Crews are making good use of the Sherpa Fire burn scar to stop the spread of the Whittier Fire. More hand crews are arriving to assist. These hand crews will play a critical role in taking the fight directly to the fire after they secure the homes under threat of the fire. A total of 1,924 personnel has been assigned to this fire at this time.

Warmer temperatures and lower humidity expected for later in the day will increase fire activity.

At this time, there is no clear timeline of when western Goleta residents will be allowed back to their homes. There is a shelter open at San Marcos High School. See our Evacuation Information page for details.

Damage assessment teams have updated the number of structures destroyed or damaged during the initial start of the fire using new software technology. 17 homes and 36 outbuildings were destroyed. It was previously reported that 8 homes and 12 outbuildings had been destroyed.

View Sunday, July 16, 2017 Whittier Fire map here

A Unified Command spokesperson confirmed that crews are actively working on reopening Highway 154. It remains closed at this time.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services and its partners are currently sheltering 25 displaced horses, 11 dogs, 27 cats, 5 birds, 3 goats, and 23 chickens.

Check back later for maps and additional information.


July 15, 2017

[6:00 p.m. PDT] - Containment on the Whittier Fire increased to 36%. Acreage remained the same Saturday night at 17,364.

The fire continued to creep down slope on the eastern, western and southern edges of the fire throughout the day. Crews working on the eastern edge of the fire continue working to keep the fire from reach Bear Creek.

The southwestern corner of the fire burned into the Sherpa Fire burn area and stalled out due to lack of fuels. Air attach continued Saturday to support ground crews and know down hot spots. Lower humidity and winds are expected Saturday night.

A total of 1,924 personnel are assigned to the Whittier Fire including 39 fire crews, 145 fire engines, 30 water tenders, 4 masticators, 6 fixed-wing aircraft, 14 helicopters and 18 bulldozers.

[6:30 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire exploded overnight to an astounding 17,364 acres burned. Containment dropped to 35%.

The fire's behavior increased on three sides Friday night. The east and west portions of the fire experienced flanking and spotting fire activity. The southern flank of the fire had an active head fire with mid-range spotting. The north side of the fire was mainly smoldering. 

View Whittier Fire map #1 from July 15, 2017 here

Crews continue to increase containment by building direct lines and reinforcing bulldozer lines on the east and west edges of the fire. Crews are using a machine called a "masticator" that crushes and grinds vegetation to remove the large amounts of dead fuel in the area.

View Whittier Fire Map #2 from July 15, 2017 here

The fire is burning in an area above the community of Goleta that hasn't burned since 1955. Approximately 2,700 people are currently evacuated. A total of 1,612 personnel including 38 fire crews, 103 fire engines, 22 water tenders, 3 masticators, 6 fixed wing aircraft, 14 helicopters and 18 bulldozers, have been assigned to the fire.

Sundowner winds are predicted for Saturday evenings and may push the fire towards populated areas. Check our Evacuation Information page for the latest information on evacuation orders and opened shelters.

View an interactive map from ENPLAN showing Whittier Fire hotspots hereENPLAN showing Whittier Fire hotspots here

The campgrounds at El Capitan or Refugio State Beach will not be evacuated at this time but that could change according to officials. They recommend campers have a discussion with their group to come up with an exit strategy in case the campgrounds need to be evacuated. If an evacuation does come, park staff will notify campers.

View another interactive map of the Whittier Fire here


July 14, 2017

[6:41 a.m. PDT] - Acreage burned in Whittier Fire grows to 13,199. Containment holding at 52%. Officials said fire behavior increased. Crews continue to increase containment by building direct lines and reinforcing bulldozer lines on the east and west edged of the fire.

Contingency lines are being built should the fire cross primary lines. Two additional firefighters suffered heat related injuries bringing the total injured firefighters to five. All injured firefighters have returned to work.

View July 14, 2017's Whittier Fire map here

The major concern on Friday and Saturday is the weather. Temperatures will be rising as the marine layer lifts. Wind gusts are forecast to reach up to 30 mph due to expected sundowner winds. These changes in weather will increase fire activity Friday afternoon and evening. 

An Air Quality Warning is in effect until Monday and potentially beyond until conditions improve.

More firefighting resources arrived and are being used to battle the Whittier Fire. More crews and equipment are on their way.

All Mandatory Evacuations and Warnings remain in place. The Red Cross evacuation shelter at San Marcos High School is still open.

For information about the Whittier Fire, call 211 if you're an area resident. If you live out of the area, call 800-400-1572. Additionally, you may call the Whittier Fire information line at 805-699-6451.


July 13, 2017

Fire officials tell NewsChannel Three that Santa Barbara County mistakenly sent out a tweet about 9:42pm Thursday night about an evacuation order for Kinevan Road. Officials are trying to find out who sent that erroneous tweet. They said Kinevan Road has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Saturday.

UPDATE - Many people are able to see the Whittier Fire as it burns Thursday night above Santa Barbara and Goleta.  A statement on the Inciweb site for the fire indicates while the flames are visible, the community is not in any imminent threat from the fire.  

In a statement posted at 10:00 Thursday night, officials said:

"Santa Barbara Fire is recieiving an overwhelming number of 911 calls.  The flare-up visible from Goleta and Santa Barbara ... is not a direct threat to communities or structures.  Emergency Services are aware of this fire and are actively monitoring the fire.  The Whittier Fire is currently actively burning below Santa Ynez peak.  Flames are visible from many coastal areas near Goleta and Santa Barbara.  This flare up currently is not a direct threat to homes or communities.  Firefighters are actively monitoring this area with Night Flight aircraft.  Crews are continuing to work on fire control lines on all areas of the fire tonight, including reinforcing dozer and hand lines along the front country area."


[6:50 p.m. PDT] - Containment for the Whittier Fire is now 52% contained. According to a fire official, the acreage is holding at 12,263 at this time.

[6:30 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire grew to 12,263 overnight according to fire officials. Containment is holding at 48%.

Crews will continue working on improving the containment line and continue damage assessment. Officials say the fire will continue to grow to the east and west sides. Smoke will be visible from surrounding communities.

A major concern is the forecasted sundowner winds Friday evening with wind gusts of 25-30 mph expected through the passes and gaps in the vicinity of the fire. Currently, the southern perimeter continues to be held by cool onshore winds.

Eight homes and 12 outbuildings have been destroyed by the Whittier Fire. The Whittier is now priority fire No. 2 in California after the Garza Fire in eastern Monterey County according to the Los Padres Forest Association.

View additional information on the fire here.

Click here to view the July 13, 2017 Whittier Fire map.


July 12, 2017

[7:23 p.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire remains 48% contained and acreage is holding at 11.920. Crews are expecting good firefighting conditions overnight as they continue to expand the containment line.

[6:43 a.m. PDT] - Whittier Fire is 48% contained, 11,920 acres burned. The fire slowed as cooler temperatures and higher humidity moved over the fire area overnight. On the eastside of the fire, three hotshot crews were assisted by a night-flying helicopter overnight. Crews will continue building direct lines, reinforce dozer lines and protect threatened Southern California Edison lines in the area.

View Wednesday's fire map here. The black line represents the containment line while the red represents the perimeter of the fire not yet under containment.

On the westside of the fire, as fire line has been constructed from Highway 154 to the rock quarry, but rough terrain is complicating efforts to continue building the line to the West Camino Ridge. Firefighters are scouting areas they can use to continue building firelines.

On the Goleta front country, ranch roads are being used to create a fire break above homes and agricultural properties. Obstacles here include loose rocks, poison oak, and steep terrain.

Smoke from the fire continues to impact air quality along the coast and the Santa Ynez Valley.

For more information, click here.


July 11, 2017 Updates

[6:30 p.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire grew to 11,823 with containment at 48%.

[5:33 p.m. PDT] - A big plume of smoke is being reported by many of our viewers. Here's what's going on. There is a flareup on the northeast flank of the Whittier Fire that crews are working on. The flareup is near Hot Spring Canyon. The fire is burning into itself on a patch of green grass. No real big threat here.

[7:00 a.m. PDT] - Acreage and containment remain the same. 10,823 acres burned, 25% containment. 

View an updated July 11, 2017 fire map for the Whittier Fire here.


July 10, 2017 Updates

[7:30 p.m. PDT] - Fire crews have advanced containment on the Whittier Fire. It's now 25% contained. Acreage remains 10,823 acres burned.

[6:30 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire has now scorched 10,823 acres and is 5% contained. There is over 700 personnel currently involved in this firefight.


For more information on the Whittier Fire, click here.

View map of current fire and evacuation warnings, orders here

View a map of operations map of Whittier Fire here

How does the Whittier Fire compare to the most recent fires in the Santa Barbara area? Click here.

Los Padres National Forest InciWeb information.


July 9, 2017 Updates

[4:00 p.m. PDT] - No official cause of the fire yet released. 3,500 people have been evacuated mostly from the Lake Cachuma and Camp Whittier area. Structures lost include mostly the campground area and some at the Lake Cachuma boat dock area.

No injuries have been reported.

Fire behavior is currently being driven by a self-created thermal belt and vegetation. No sundowner winds expected.

Resources are stretched thin throughout the state due to numerous wildfires but Type 3 brush fire engines are on their way to assist with the Whittier Fire.

Helicopters are being used on the south face of the fire.

[10:20 a.m. PDT] - Approximately 20 structures have been destroyed by the Whittier Fire on both sides of Highway 154, according to Santa Barbara County officials.

[7:05 a.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire has now burned 7,800 acres, 5% contained.

[3:00 a.m. PDT] - Residents along Farren Road west of Goleta remain under a mandatory evacuation order due to the encroaching Whittier Fire.  People living between Las Varas Canyon and Winchester Canyon Roads west of Goleta remain under an evacuation warning, which means they should be prepared to leave quickly if fire conditions change.

Estimates remain at 4,500 acres burned, but that number is expected to go up significantly after firefighters get updated reports when the sun comes up.

[2:45 a.m. PDT] - NewsChannel 3 crews saw no obvious forward progress of the flames that can be viewed from areas including Isla Vista and Goleta.


July 8, 2017 Updates

Any change in evacuation orders overnight will be updated here.  NewsChannel 3 will begin live coverage at 6:00 a.m. on KEYT and the NOW Channel.

[11:50 p.m. PDT] - Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has issued a mandatory evacuation order for Farren Road.  Other nearby areas remain at evacuation "warning" status.  NewsChannel 3 crews saw several fire trucks going up the road to deal with the fire's advance.  

Santa Barbara County Air Quality managers declared an air quality warning due to smoke and ash from the Whittier and Alamo Fires on both ends of the county.

[10:25 p.m. PDT] - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation warning for the following areas: Las Varas Canyon east to Winchester Canyon and from Highway 101 north to W. Camino Cielo.

Officials said anyone in this area should be gathering family members, pets, important documents and irreplaceable items and be prepared to leave. People with special needs should evacuate now. Large animals should be evacuated now. 

People needing help with large animals should call (805) 681-4332.

The south evacuation shelter is open at San Marcos High School, 4750 Hollister Ave. in Goleta. A north evacuation shelter is open at Santa Ynez Elementary, 3325 Pine St. in Santa Ynez.


[8:32 p.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire has grown to 5,400 acres with zero containment and has pushed over the ridge at Condor Peak toward Santa Barbara County's front country above Ferrin Rd. and Winchester Canyon Rd.

Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said he wants to make it very clear that the fire is burning far from homes. However, he said residents need to be alert.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's officials told NewsChannel 3 that at this time, there are no evacuation orders or notices that have gone out to residents living in that part of the Goleta community.

Zaniboni said one water-dropping helicopter will continue flying during the nighttime hours. 


[7:24 p.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire has crested over the Santa Ynez Mountains and is now burning on the Santa Barbara/Goleta side of the mountain. 

Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said crews will continue to work throughout the night to work to extinguish flames. There are multiple spot fires throughout the wildfire area.

The fire is still within Los Padres National Forest Boundaries. 


[6:30 p.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire has grown to 3,000 acres with zero containment. Winds are swirling throughout the area and created difficult conditions for firefighters. Evacuation orders remain in place for affected neighborhood. The latest evacuation orders can be found here.

People on Paradise Road should be prepared to leave immediately. People with special needs should evacuate now. Large animals should be evacuated now. Hwy 154 at Cachuma Lake remains in an evacuation order. If you have large animals to evacuate, contact the hotline: (805)681-4332. 


[5:40 p.m. PDT] - Representatives from Circle V Ranch stated that about 90 campers and 50 counselors were stranded by the Whittier Fire. Many were evacuated and crews were able to reach more. They said they are following the evacuation procedures that are in place. 


[4:40 p.m. PDT] - The entirety of the 154 corridor is under evacuation warning or mandatory evacuations. Cachuma Camp, Camp Whittier, Outdoor School, Rancho Alegre are being evacuated. Circle V Ranch, Live Oak Camp, Cachuma Village are also being evacuated.

Evacuation updates can be found on the County of Santa Barbara twitter account.


[4:20 p.m. PDT] - Approximately 80 campers, the majority of them children, are currently stranded at Circle V Ranch. They are with fire personnel and are currently sheltered in place.  The area is currently inaccessible to fire crews. Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said multiple structures have been lost.


[4:00 p.m. PDT] - An evacuation center has been opened at San Marcos High School at 4750 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara. An additional center is set up at Santa Ynez Elementary School at 3325 Pine Street.

Anyone that needs assistance with animal evacuation is asked to contact the the animal evacuation hotline at (805) 681-4332.

Small animals that owners can evacuate can be brought to the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road.

Owners of large animals should call the hotline at (805) 681-4332. An evacuation site for large animals has not yet been established.


[3:40 p.m. PDT] - The Whittier Fire near Lake Cachuma on the 154 has spread to both sides of the roadway.

We have received word that a emergency vehicle was completely engulfed in flames.

There are also reports that there are campers stranded within the fire. Residents near Lake Cachuma are under mandatory evacuation orders.


[3:30 p.m. PDT] - A mandatory evacuation is in place for residents near the 154 in the Lake Cachuma area. Residents are told to leave immediately. 

An evacuation warning is in place for Paradise Road and West Camino Cielo. Residents in the area are asked to be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.

State Route 154 is closed between SR 246 and SR 192.


[Original Story] - Fire crews are responding to an active vegetation fire near Camp Whittier and Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County.

The fire broke out at around 2 p.m. along California State Route 154.

Large plumes of smoke have been reported throughout Santa Barbara County.

The fire is located among the Los Padres National Forest. A viewer reported to KEYT that the Lake Cachuma campground is being evacuated.

According to the California Highway Patrol, SR 154 will be closed from State Route 246 to State Route 192.

We have a news crew en route and will have the latest information as it becomes available.

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