As of 5 p.m. yesterday, authorities officially contained the Sedgwick Reserve Fire in Santa Ynez Valley.
The nearby fire began at 6 a.m. on Sunday and burned approximately 750 acres in the Sedgwick Reserve area. Over 500 Santa Barbara County firefighters fought the blaze on the ground and from the sky in airplanes and helicopters. Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in six other counties in Southern California due to raging forest fires.
Additionally, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young sent out an e-mail to all students yesterday through the U-Mail server, advising students to stay away from effected areas. The e-mail also stated that Young’s office will post disaster information online at www.sa.ucsb.edu.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. received assistance from the state Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection, which is currently attempting to contain larger fires in the counties of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego.
According to a press release, the county may dispatch the firefighters to other burn areas in the state now that Sedgwick’s fire is contained. The 5,895-acre Sedgwick Reserve is mostly owned by UCSB. The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County owns a 782-acre parcel of the land, which is managed by the University of California Natural Reserve System.
Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. spokesman Eli Iskow said the Sedgwick flames were easier to fight than most of the other fires because it was in a secluded area.
“It is not a threat to structures or people,” he said. “Ours is not a giant fire, but its not a little fire either.”
Yesterday morning, residents of the Woodstock community, east of Los Olivos and next to Highway 154, were issued an evacuation warning. However, Iskow said the fire department is prepared to cancel the warning.
“We are going to lift the evacuation as of 6 p.m. Monday afternoon,” he said. “There is no more danger for people from the Sedgwick Fire.”
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Dept. and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District also issued a precautionary advisory for local residents. County Health Officer Elliot Schulman said residents who can see or smell smoke should monitor their health.
“If you have a problem or have trouble breathing, minimize your activity,” he said. “If tonight or tomorrow the winds pick up again, there might be a problem.”
Schulman also said that some of the current poor air quality conditions are the result of wind gusts blowing in leftover ash from the Zaca Fire that was contained on Sept. 2.
“The ash is entirely left over from the Zaca Fire,” he said. “Strong winds have picked up the ash that has been lying there for a month.”
Although Santa Barbara residents are out of danger for the moment, Iskow said locals should prepare for the possibility of additional fires in the near future, should wind and weather conditions change.