Whittier Fire

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Whittier Fire


Whittier Fire Local Incident Management Team to Assume Command
July 25, 2017 Local incident management team to assume command of Whittier Fire GOLETA, Calif, - On Wednesday, July 26, at 7:00 a.m., California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 (CIIMT3)... more


Approximate Location

34.567 latitude, -119.953 longitude

Incident Overview

This picture shows CCC corpsmembers cleaning and rolling hose used on the fireline.

Image options: [ Enlarge ] [ Full Size ]

Start Date: July 8, 2017 Cause: Under Investigation Size: 18,430 acres Containment: 87% Personnel: 75

Message from commander Mark von Tillow (.mp4 video)

Local incident management team assumed command of the Whittier Fire

Structures burned: 16 Residences destroyed 1 Residence damaged
30 Outbuildings destroyed 6 Outbuildings damaged

Location: Santa Ynez Mountains south of Lake Cachuma

Current Situation: - As of 6:00 pm on Sunday, August 6, the local Type 3 team, under the command of Curt Schwarm and Rob Thibault, trainee, will be transitioning to a local Type 4 team, with Andre Evans as Incident Commander and Jack Reimers as Incident Commander Trainee.

No significant fire activity is expected today. Smoke reports continue to come in from the 154 corridor, however, they have been verified to be well inside the containment lines. As reports come in, resources continue to mop up the areas where the smokes are coming from when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Crews continue to patrol, mop-up and strengthen fire line throughout the fire area, as well as, working on suppression repair. Fire crews and dozers have successfully completed 105 out of 105 miles of dozer line and roads. Helicopter reconnaissance flights will take place each afternoon.

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team is evaluating the burned area watersheds to identify emergency treatments necessary to protect sensitive resources.

Fire Resources: 1 Fire Crews 2 Fire Engines 2 Water Tenders
1 Helicopter 1 Masticators Total Personnel: 75

Weather: Good humidity recoveries occurred overnight. Humidity is expected to be between 20 to 40% range for inland areas this afternoon, with higher humidity on the coastal side. North winds, of 6-12 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon, still at 6-12 mph.

Fire Weather: Temp: 78-85 in the higher elevations. Relative Humidity: 20-450% Winds: North to northwest winds of 6-12 mph are predicted for the afternoon.

Front Country Temp: 87-95 Relative Humidity: 20-40% Winds: 6-12 mph.

Information Sources: For more fire information, check inciweb.nwcg.gov or call the Los Padres National Forest at (805) 968-6640, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Road Closure: West Camino Cielo from the Winchester Gun Club to Refugio Road.

Los Padres NF Closures: Information can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/lpnf/alerts-notices.

Safety Warning: Drive carefully along Highway 154 as engines and crews are still using the roadways.

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 Liaison Officers in Managing Emergency Incidents
Click here for a short video about
Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Teams

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.

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.

Forest Service Regional Forester and CAL FIRE Director visit Whittier Fire
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.

Close Call For Cold Springs Tavern
Santa Barbara is undoubtedly a tourist destination, known for its beaches, lively festivals, night life, and Spanish-style architecture. With all that Santa Barbara has to offer, nothing complements its beauty more than the Santa Ynez Mountains steeply towering over the town, providing impressionable views of the city in all its glory. In just 15 minutes, visitors and locals alike take a quick quick drive on Highway 154 to catch some stunning views of the city while heading back in time to the Wild, Wild West. A turn on Stage Coach Road and a quick drive down the canyon, onlookers can take in the wonder that is Cold Springs Canyon Arch Bridge, a historic civil engineering landmark. The journey culminates at the destination where guests are able to revel in the Cold Springs Tavern experience.
Read the Full Story.

Miles from home, CCC corps members excel
A large fire such as the Whittier Fire requires a large support team to organize supplies and keep the camp clean. To ensure that the Incident Command Post at Dos Pueblos High School runs smoothly, the Incident Management Team depends on the hard work of the California Conservation Corps (CCC).
Read the Full Story

Explanation of Sundowner Winds

Over the Santa Barbara County Coast of Southern California, warm down sloping winds sometimes occur during the early evening hours. These winds, called Sundowners, are a compression wind, a warm and dry flow of air that heats up and dries out as it travels down the slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Read the Full Story

Hazards of the Plant Variety on the Fireline

Firefighters battling the Whittier Fire on the Los Padres National Forest have more to contend with than just heat, flames, smoke and hazardous terrain. There is another enemy lurking in their midst: the all too familiar poison oak. Poison oak is prevalent in most areas on the forest and some firefighters are saying it is the worst they have even seen. Four hundred firefighters have reported to the fire’s medical units for poison oak related ailments with 175 cases in the past three days, 55 of which had to receive prednisone shots. Read the Full Story

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 the Full Story

Burned Area Emergency Response – The Next Chapter in the Fire’s Story
It starts with a flame. A flame soon becomes a fire. A fire with walls of intense heat moving up a mountain, consuming vegetation and leaving soil bare as it runs over rocks of various shapes and sizes along the way. The fire ignores all the things put into place to tell people where to go, such as trails and roads. The fire has indifference for cultural assets. The fire swiftly crosses streams and watersheds impacting wildlife both in-water and on-land. A wildfire lives up to its name. On the afternoon of July 8, 2017, the Whittier Fire began its story.
Read the Full Story

Local Utility Companies Coordinate with First Responders at the Whittier Fire
When the Whittier Fire swept through the Santa Ynez Mountains above Highway 154 on July 8, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) already was on scene finishing work at the recent Alamo Fire. When the smoke began to clear and it was safe to enter the fire area, damage assessment teams used helicopters and ground crews to survey the work ahead.
Read the Full Story

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.

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 CommanderAndre Levin
Incident DescriptionWildfire

Current Situation

Size18,430 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained100%
Estimated Containment DateThursday October 05th, 2017 approx. 05:00 PM
Fuels Involved

Chaparral and brush

Significant Events

No behavior observed


Planned Actions


Projected Incident Activity

Smoke is no longer visible from surrounding communities.


All 105 miles of dozer line and roads have been rehabbed and repaired. There have been no further reports of smoke along the 154 corridor, and a final infrared flight on Oct. 2 showed that a small number of heat sources well within the containment lines no longer present a threat to adjacent communities or a risk to escaping the containment lines.

Unit Information

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

Incident Contact

Los Padres National Forest
Phone: 805-968-6640
Hours: 9 AM until 5 PM

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