Gap Fire 5 July 8:15am

First, kudos again to Edhat‘s news list for not only gathering info from many sources, but for giving equal weight to both professional and amateur sources — and for hosting a great many comments on some of the postings. As an interactive local news service, “Ed” does a fine job. When surfing for the latest on the fire, it’s a good place to start. Others among these are good as well:

Second, I have been somewhat remiss by not including GeoMAC among sources for following the fire. You can follow maps from multiple sources, as I make screen shots and upload them, here. The latest from MODIS shows new fire activity (red dots, meaning in the last 0 to 12 hours) near highway 154 and on the uphill (north) and west sides of the fire perimeter. Highway 154 (San Marcos Pass) remains open.

The LA Times this morning has ‘Critical day’ dawns for Goleta fire, enlarged by overnight wind gusts, with a dramatic photo of an air tanker (see last paragraph below) dropping red fire retardant near a house. The summary:

The blaze, while 24% contained, grew to 8,357 acres. Firefighters plan to concentrate on protecting homes to the east before another night of ‘sundowners.’ At least 2,663 homes have been evacuated.

Note that there are 97 comments so far to that story.

KEYT has a summary of evacuation areas as of 5pm yesterday. That story also has a map.

Note that chapparal wildfires, especially in steep rocky country like this, do not only spread from their edges. They also spread by dropping burning material at distances from source flames, which can have powerful updrafts. This makes fighting these fires very hard on the ground.

Inciweb’s page for the Gap Fire currently gives its size as 54oo acres, with 1072 personnel working on the fire. Under Fire Behavior, it says,

Down canyon winds continued through the night pushing the fire front into the north side of Goleta and widening the flanks east and west. Fire also continued to the north into the wind overnight with limited movement.

Planned actions:

Structure protection, create safety zones and establish contingency lines In the Goleta foothills. Construct control lines when conditions permit. Damage assessment from last night will be conducted.


Firefighters are from several agencies including the United States Forest Service and Santa Barbara County Fire Department and several local cooperators including the San Marcos Volunteer Fire Department. The California Highway Patrol, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, and the American Red Cross are assisting. ICP has been established at Earl Warren Showgrounds. Dos Pueblos High School will remain a staging area.

Current wind is gusting at 30mph from the north (down the mountains, toward Goleta). The temperature is 75° and the humidity is 25%.

InciWeb has no maps for the fire, but does suggest visiting these sources:

It’s sad that InciWeb remains both slow (often overwhelmed) and behind its own curve. I’ve had a number of email exchanges with folks working on InciWeb, and have great respect for the hard work they do within what is essentially a bureaucratic morass. I think the lesson here is that we have to do our best with many sources, and the messiness that involves.

Somewhere among the sources above I read that an aggressive aerial attack was planned to start at dawn this morning. I’m too far east (~5 miles) of the fire to see that; but it helps that Santa Barbara’s airport is in Goleta itself, almost next to the fire, and is home to one of the main Air Attack Bases for the U.S. Forest Service. Here is a photoset I shot of that base, and the P3 Orions used for bombing fires with supressant. I am sure these are in use right now.

Finally (at least for now), I want to say that I’m optimistic about this fire, even though I must disclaim any qualifications for that other than as an amateur observer. I feel a need to do that because I’ve also shot photographs that could easily be seen as scary. These two sets, for example. Please note that I shot those with a long telephoto lens to maximize the apparent size of the sun — reducing the apparent distance between subjects in the photo (such as Mission Santa Barbara, the fire and the Sun). Also because, hey, I wanted to take good photos.

Speaking of which, I also shot the fireworks from up in the hills last night, where there was also a pretty rocking party. Life goes on.

Tag: sbgapfire.

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2 Responses to Gap Fire 5 July 8:15am

  1. Kurt Kamm says:

    lDoc – you can go crazy linking into fire information websites. If you want more let me know, I can give you the CalFire site which covers everything in CA.

    I suggest you start a daily column about fire in CA. I live in Malibu and am a wildland fire expert. We have had some ferocious fires here every year. Each year the fires are coming earlier, getting worse, and lasting longer. Soon CA will have a full 12 month fire season. Each year we hear, “unusually dry season, low rainfall, etc.” That’s the norm! The fire services are doing all they can, but there is still a terrible loss of property. There are several basic issues-
    >Accumulated brush which hasn’t burned in 20 years
    > Increased development on the urban-wildland interface
    > Power poles over weighted with fiber-optic cable
    >Everyone everywhere expects full (free) fire protection at no cost
    >Climate changes
    >Lunatics who think it would be fun to set something on fire.

    It aint gonna be pretty
    Kurt Kamm

    (PS. I’m a Columbia Law grad from long ago)

  2. Doc Searls says:

    Kurt, thanks.

    I’d be interested in the CalFire site, and in helping others who want to take on the challenge of doing what none of the media or agencies seem capable of doing, which is providing full-service fire coverage 24/7, complete with links and credits running to all the right places.

    I don’t want to do it myself. One problem is that I have too much else to do. Another is that I am currently living here only for short stretches. While our official residence is here in Santa Barbara, we reside in the Boston area while I pursue work related to a fellowship there. It’s hard to cover California fires when you’re living 3,000 miles away. It can be done, but I’d rather provide a helping role rather than a central one.

    That said, I’m flattered by the suggestion and appreciate everythig everybody is doing to make this work out.


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