Almost a week after the Jesusita Fire began, authorities announced they believe a power tool sparked the highly destructive wildfire.
Investigators determined that the fire originated near the Jesusita Trailhead, which snakes into the Santa Ynez Mountains. It is believed sparks originating from power tools being used for brush clearing along the trail caused the blaze, and authorities have asked for the public’s help in identifying any suspects who were in the area on May 4 and 5.
The fire – which has thus far burned 8,733 acres and cost approximately $10.8 million to fight – is now 70 percent contained, according to the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (Calfire). Despite the progress, firefighters remain wary of sundowner winds and continue to closely monitor the situation.
An estimated 77 homes were destroyed and 22 homes were damaged in the flames, with about 130 additional outbuildings damaged or destroyed.
As of Monday night, 145 homes remained under mandatory evacuation orders, affecting approximately 360 people. Nearly all the local schools reopened for classes yesterday.
Last Friday, when the fire was at its worst, over 4,000 personnel were at the scene battling the fire, and 28 firefighters have been reported injured. The number of personnel has since dropped to just under 3,200. Although air quality warnings remain in effect for the area, officials expect the fire to be fully contained by Wednesday.