Whittier Fire containment plans includes winter storm protections

Muddy impacts could be ahead

GAVIOTA COAST, Calif. - The plan to finish off the Whittier fire in Santa Barbara County includes efforts to prevent flooding in the wet months ahead.

District Ranger Pancho Smith and the incident command team have an area of concern between El Capitan and Winchester Canyon.

Last year after the Sherpa fire, heavy rains caused mud flows and serious damage to cars and cabins.

The area has been restored, but now there's a new winter weather concern that was discussed  at a daily briefing. 

Crews will be adjusting their containment techniques if they can to put the fire out without burning up some of the hills that head into populated, agricultural or tourist areas.

"They still have problems.  More of the canyon above them burned up," said Smith about the current fire footprint.

There are big agricultural areas also in the line of fire if winds pick up but those ranches could also be a buffer.  "Number one because it slows  things down.  Number two it slows the fire down. Fire is not going to burn through an avocado orchard. It might go a couple of rows in and get some roasted avocados  but it's not going to carry all the way through it definitely helps."

He also pointed out areas on the Cachuma Lake side of the fire that burned and said rains would likely send silt and ash into the water reservoir there.

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