5/08/09 8:30 p.m.

CAL Fire now estimates that the four-day blaze has left 8,600 acres burned and that containment remains at 10 percent. Officials say 80 homes have burned and over 30,500 people have evacuated.

Over 3,400 personnel are now battling the flames. As of 7 p.m., CAL Fire stated that the fire continues to move North on East Camino Cielo, and may spread further east, west toward Mario Ignacio and south along the Foothills of Santa Barbara and Goleta.

Sundowner condition is still in effect, with hot, windy and dry weather predicted. Currently, Santa Barbara has an onshore condition, SB County Fire Chief Tom Franklin said at a press conference, which leads to high humidity that pushes the fire away from the city.

However, he noted that the wind could potentially change and send the fire downhill.

Meanwhile, on campus, Chancellor Henry T. Yang wrote in an e-mail that UCSB has provided police officers and emergency personnel to aid in the evacuation process and the MAC and Events Center are serving as shelters.

The cost to date for fighting the fire is estimated at $3.2 million.

-Staff Report
5/08/09 10:55 a.m.

Ash is raining on Isla Vista this morning as the Jesusita Fire continues to blaze through Santa Barbara’s hills.

With reports of hundred-foot flames and winds pushing the fire eastward, officials say they expect the fire to gain strength throughout the day due to powerful winds and dry conditions. Around 75 homes are believed to be damaged or destroyed, and 3,500 residences are currently threatened by the flames. City Fire Chief Andrew DiMizio said at this morning’s press conference that “last night, all hell broke loose.”

The blaze has left over 3,500 acres scorched, and officials estimate it is about 10 percent contained. Over 2,500 personnel are on scene fighting the wildfire, including 10 fixed wing aircraft and 15 helicopters.

There have been 11 reported firefighter injuries.

An evacuation order has been issued to include all areas north of Highway 101 and east of Patterson Avenue, as well as part of Montecito. The Events Center and the MAC in the RecCen and are serving as shelters for evacuees.

The fire’s cause remains under investigation.

-Staff Report

As the Jesusita Fire rages out of control, local officials and university administrators fear that a large Floatopia 2 event on Saturday could tax the county’s already strained firefighting resources.

Although an urgency ordinance banning alcohol consumption on Isla Vista’s beach was passed by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Brian Olmstead said he’s not sure students will comply, and he noted that the large beachside festival would hurt the firefighting effort.

“Any event with 12,000 people would need the resources of around 25 firefighters and 25 deputies for several hours,” Olmstead said. “[The county is in] a state of emergency, and a lot of our resources are being used for the evacuation, so there is a concern that the resources could be better spent on our state of emergency for the community than for an Isla Vista beach event.”

In light of the growing threat posed by the fire, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young said that those planning to attend round two of Floatopia should weigh their decisions carefully.

“If this were any normal weekend, people could debate the pros and cons of what we should or shouldn’t do about Floatopia 2 – but there is so much more at stake now,” Young said. “This is just a different situation from when I was talking about this before. … People are at risk of losing their homes.”

While no reports have been confirmed, Young said, there are rumors that faculty and staff members have had their houses damaged or burned. Last night, UCSB opened up its doors to evacuees, and both the Thunderdome and the MCC are being used to help displaced individuals.

As of press time, the fire has forced 30,000 people from their homes and continues to threaten thousands of houses. In the last day it moved West and threatened the hills above Goleta, though firefighters worry that it may move toward Montecito today.

Approximately 75 homes have burned or been destroyed, and the county estimates that 3,500 acres have been consumed by the blaze.

Given the desperate fight being waged against the fire right now, Associated Students President J.P. Primeau said it is important for students to not aggravate the county’s state of emergency with a beach party.

“The county has finite resources, and all of those are being diverted to the fire,” Primeau said. “Many fire trucks and ambulances, and the police forces – all of those would be going to Floatopia.”

The end message that eager beach partiers need to take home, Olmstead said, is that individual responsibility and respect for the difficulties of fighting the fire must be stressed.

“We would hope that everyone, if they do go down there [to the beach] … they do act responsibly, and comply with the [alcohol-ban],” Olmstead said. “I think that everyone has to look at the safety of the entire county and not just the I.V. population and beachgoers.”