Judith Dale: Forest fires in Santa Barbara County, 2008 to 2015 | Chroniclers
By July 4, 5,500 acres had burned, and 800 firefighters and 20 planes were desperate to save hundreds of homes along North Fairview Avenue. By evening, the fire was advancing on three fronts: north toward Camino Cielo, toward l east to Route 154 and west. towards downtown Goleta.
The next day, July 5, the fire had burned down 8,300 acres with 2,500 firefighters trying to keep the Goleta fire off. They were successful and favorable weather conditions pushed the fire west towards Gaviota, not south towards Goleta.
The fire burned in the hills until July 28 and burned a total of 10,000 acres. Firefighters credited the agricultural barrier with green avocado orchards and irrigated farms surrounding Goleta with rescuing the town.
Due to the heroic efforts of the firefighters, only four structures were set on fire and no one was killed.
Tea fire, November 2009: The tea fire was lit by an abandoned bonfire that a group of college students thought they had put out the night before after partying at the historic “Tea House” at the Mar Y Cel Estate in Montecito.
Strong winds fanned the embers and the fire quickly spread along the mountains from Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara. The blaze was brought under control in four days, but it burned 1,940 acres and 210 homes in Santa Barbara and Montecito.
At Westmont College, the physics lab, psychology building, math building, 15 halls of residence and two halls of residence were destroyed. Fortunately, Westmont had contingency plans in place, so 800 students and staff were evacuated to the fire-retardant concrete gymnasium. The fire burned within 10 feet of the gymnasium, but the structure held up and everything was safe.