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Whittier Fire


Whittier Fire Morning Update for July 20, 2017
Start Date: July 8, 2017 Cause: Under Investigation Size: 18,430 acres Containment: 76% Personnel: 1,520 Structures burned: 16 Residences destroyed 1 Residence damaged 30 Outbuildings destroyed 6.. more


Approximate Location

34.567 latitude, -119.953 longitude

Incident Overview

Extra Water for Protection of  Cold Spring Tavern July 16th, 2017

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Firefighters from the US Forest Service, Santa Barbara County Fire, CAL FIRE and many other local agencies are working to contain the 18,395 acre wildfire that began Saturday, July 8th along Highway 154 in the Lake Cachuma area. The fire is now 76% contained. California Interagency Incident Command Team Three, lead by Incident Commander Mark von Tillow, is in command of the Whittier Fire, which is burning on local, state, and federal lands within the Santa Ynez mountains north of Goleta, CA.

On July 17th, CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott, Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore, and others paid a visit to the Whittier Fire. After a brief update on fire conditions by Incident Commander Mark von Tillow, both Moore, Pimlott, and Santa Barbara Fire Chief, Eric Peterson, spoke about the spirit of cooperation and mutual aid that exists within the fire service. Click to view a full length YouTube
Video of the Press Conference.

Current Situation: On the western edge, fire crews increased containment yesterday and today. The fire continues to creep slowly downhill. Fire and smoke may be visible this evening along the southern edge until the marine layer settles. Firefighters will continue constructing line as the heavy marine layer slows the fire’s progression. Firefighters are attacking the fire head-on where safe to do so, in addition to using targeted water drops on hotspots. Improvement of primary and secondary bulldozer line continues. The northern edge is being patrolled and mopped-up and the line is holding. Firefighters are beginning assessments and repairs in areas impacted by fire suppression operations. On the eastern edge, fire crews are working to improve the containment line in Bear Creek Canyon. Fire crews will construct direct fireline; however, where steep and inaccessible, fire retardant will be put in by aircraft to slow the fire’s spread.

Fire Resources: 42 Fire Crews 52 Fire Engines 32 Water Tenders 4 Masticators 16 Helicopters 15 Bulldozers Total Personnel: 1,520

Weather: Weak high pressure aloft will remain over the fire area for the next several days. This will allow for marine influences including fog and low clouds at night and into early morning over the 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 the weekend.

Fire Weather: Overnight Temp: 63 - 69 Relative Humidity: 25 - 30% Winds: 2-5 and gusts to 13 mph

Information Sources: A Fire Information Call Center is staffed and available to answer questions from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. each day.

PDF Library - Current Maps, Fire Update and Smoke Reports
Click to read the
Morning Update for July 19th (pdf).
Click to view the
Operations Map of the Whittier Fire, July 20th (large pdf).
Click to view the
Public Information Map of the Whittier Fire, July 20th (small pdf)
Haga clic para leer La
Actualizacion de la Manana del 19 de Julio (pdf)
Click to read the
Most Recent Evacuation Order (7/18, 10 AM) (pdf)
Click to View the
Most Recent Evacuation Status Map (7/18, 10AM) (pdf)

Video Library: Learn more about the Fire and Fire-Related Topics
Click here to watch a Video of
Current Fire Conditions on the Whittier Fire, July 19th
Click here to watch a Video of Structure Protection Measures taken at Cold Springs Tavern, July 16th
Click here for a short video about the Role Of Liason Officers in Managing Emergency Incidents

Whittier Fire Backhaul - A Retrieval Task:
While firefighters make the final push towards full containment of the Whittier Fire, they must fulfill another extremely important however non-glamourous task. During initial attack and subsequent fire operations, all fire equipment’s GPS location is recorded. Now that containment has increased and the weather is favorable, firefighters must be on the lookout for equipment in the field that is no longer needed for current operations. GPS locations are confirmed, the amount of equipment is noted and arrangements are scheduled for ‘backhaul.” The Whittier Fire is no exception. (
Read More)

Three Phases of Wildfire Rehabilitation

There are three phases of rehabilitation following wildfires on federal lands: Fire Suppression Repair; Burned Area Emergency Response; and Long-term Recovery.

Fire Suppression Repair is a series of immediate post-fire actions taken to repair damages and minimize environmental impacts resulting from fire suppression activities and is usually began after the fire is contained and before the demobilization of an Incident Management Team. This work rehabilitates the hand and dozer firelines, roads, trails, staging areas, safety zones, and drop points used during fire suppression efforts.

BAER -The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program is a rapid assessment of burned watersheds by BAER teams to identify unacceptable post-fire threats and implement emergency treatments to reduce unacceptable risks before the first major storm or damaging event. The fire results in a loss of vegetation, exposure of the soil to erosion and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding and increased sediment and debris flows. BAER treatments such as the installation of erosion and runoff water control devices; temporary barriers to protect recovering areas; warning signs; and drainage features for increased flow may be implemented. BAER work may also replace safety related facilities; remove safety hazards; prevent permanent loss of habitat for threatened and endangered species; and prevent the spread of noxious weeds.

Long-Term Recovery utilizes non-emergency actions that are done within three years or more after fire containment to improve fire-damaged lands that are unlikely to recover naturally and to repair or replace facilities damaged by the fire that are not critical to life safety. This phase may include restoring burned habitat, monitoring fire effects, replacing burned fences, interpreting cultural sites, treating pre-existing noxious weed infestations, and installing interpretive signs.

Damage Assessment: Damage assessment teams have updated the number of structures damaged or destroyed. These structures were damaged or destroyed during the early hours of the fire. Damage assessment teams, using new software technology, completed the assessment. The incident would like to commend the damage assessment efforts of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management with regard to their efficient and ongoing operations. 1 residence and 6 structures were damaged; 16 residences and 30 structures were destroyed. Other structures would include buildings such as detached garages, barns, bunkhouses, or other improvements.

Evacuation Orders: West Camino Cielo from the Winchester Gun Club to Refugio Road;

Evacuation Warnings: Cachuma Village; 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.

Evacuation Shelters: The American Red Cross shelters have moved to a stand-by basis. If conditions change, the shelters will reopen as necessary.

Roads and Highways: Highway 154 was reopened at 5 PM on July 16, 2017.

Vegetation: The slope that the fire is primarily burning on is comprised of oak trees and brush that has not burned since the Refugio Fire in 1955. Over the last several years these fuels have been stressed by the exceptional drought conditions and a high percentage of the fuel bed is dead. The combination of old, dry fuels with a newly cured heavy grass crop contributed to the rapid growth of this fire. Large, old oak trees are continuing to burn well after the fire has past, leaving hazardous snags along highways and firelines.

Los Padres National Forest:

The Los Padres National Forest is currently under
Stage III Fire Restrictions. Click the following links to find the Legal Decision Notice and Forest Closure Order. Stage II Fire Restrictions remain in effect.

Emergency Forest Closure Order has been issued for the duration of the Whittier Fire. Click the following links to find the Legal Decision Notice, Forest Closure Order, and Forest Closure Map.

For additional information, please also visit the Los Padres National Forest Website.

Drones: Flying a drone near or over a wildfire is illegal and dangerous. If you fly, we can’t.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
CauseUnknown / Under Investigation
Date of OriginSaturday July 08th, 2017 approx. 01:45 PM
LocationCamp Whittier near Lake Cachuma, Santa Ynez Mountains South of Hwy 154
Incident CommanderUnified Command with CALFIRE, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Incident DescriptionWildfire

Current Situation

Total Personnel1,520
Size18,395 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained76%
Fuels Involved

Oak Woodlands transitioning to Chaparral


Planned Actions

Structure defense, direct and indirect line construction, mop up and improve existing line.

Projected Incident Activity

Fire will continue to grow on the south side. Smoke will be visible from surrounding communities.


Acreage is determined from data acquired once daily by NIROPS infrared flight due to inaccessibility for ground

personnel and smoky conditions for incident aviation assets.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Observed: Low clouds and fog from the marine layer moved in over the fire area and covered much of the lower slopes on both the coastal side and the inland valley side. Clear above the marine layer. Low temperatures ranged from 60-65 coastal side and 65-75 inland

and higher terrain. Very good humidity recovery overnight to 70-75 percent coastal and moderate recovery higher terrain to 30-35 percent. Downslope and down-valley winds were 1-4 mph with

north winds gusting to 15 mph over the peaks and highest terrain.

Forecasted: Cloudy below 1500 feet in the morning otherwise sunny all areas. Highs 77-83 coastal and 90-97 inland. Minimum humidity 45-55 percent coastal and 22-28 percent inland. Winds upslope 1-4

mph coastal and west 3-6 with gusts to 15 mph inland.

Unit Information

USFS Shield
Los Padres National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
6750 Navigator Way
Suite 150
Goleta, CA 93117

Incident Contacts

Fire Information Center
Phone: 805-699-6451
Hours: 7 AM until 10 PM
Line #2
Phone: 805-562-1236
Hours: 7 AM until 10 PM
Line #3
Phone: 805-562-1237
Hours: 7 AM until 10 PM
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