Monday’s battle against the Whittier Fire in Santa Barbara County focused on the northwest end, where heat as well as steep, rocky terrain are challenging firefighting crews.
It’s one of the few places the fire grew Sunday into Monday, along with pockets along the south side above western Goleta. The fire has burned 18,311 acres since July 8 and containment was expected to increase from Monday’s total, when it was at 49 percent.
Incident Cmdr. Mark von Tillow and other fire officials said at a briefing midday Monday that the north end of the fire, which runs along Lake Cachuma and Highway 154, remains contained, and the eastern side likely will be fully contained by Tuesday.
The fire slowed as it hit the Gap Fire burn area on the southeast and the Sherpa Fire burn area on the southwest. Those newer fuels don’t react the same and the fire history there was a blessing in disguise, von Tillow said.
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The southern edge of the fire is still uncontrolled and has a lot of personnel assigned to it, including crews in the canyons west of Goleta, where many South Coast residents have been evacuated.
The historic Cold Spring Tavern on Stagecoach Road had portable water tanks and a sprinkler system set up for structure protection, and “I don’t feel the Cold Spring Tavern is under threat anymore,” von Tillow said.
Damage assessments are being conducted throughout the burn area, and at last count there were 16 primary residences destroyed and one damaged, 30 outbuildings destroyed (garages, sheds or anything that’s not a residence) and six more damaged, officials said.
Some of the longtime road closures and evacuation orders were lifted Sunday and Monday, as Highway 154 and Paradise Road reopened to the public.
The evacuation warning for Cachuma Village stayed in effect. Mandatory evacuation orders also remained in effect for West Camino Cielo from the Winchester Gun Club to Refugio Road; and the area from Winchester Canyon Road west to El Capitán Ranch Road, excluding the communities of Wagon Wheel, Langlo Ranch Road and Winchester Commons.
To the north, firefighters continued to make progress against the Alamo Fire, which was 98 percent contained Monday. The fire, which started near Twitchell Reservoir on the San Luis Obispo County/Santa Barbara County line on July 6, has burned 28,687 acres and destroyed one residence.