The Alisal Fire — a vegetation fire that began in the ridge above Alisal Ranch — has steadily grown to over 15,000 acres since 1 p.m. on Oct. 13.
The fire has been burning since around 2 p.m. on Oct. 11, with unfavorable wind conditions pushing the increasing acreage. The fire remains 20 miles away from UC Santa Barbara. However, the fire has jumped highway 101 and is closed between Winchester and Cathedral Oaks.
Beginning 7 p.m. on Oct. 13, a federal Type 1 Incident Command Team (IMT) with 58 leadership positions — greater than the former 12-person team — will be taking over command of the Alisal Fire response, according to a county press conference on Oct. 13.
According to Matthew Farris, the deputy commander of the county’s Type 3 IMT, the high wind velocity is preventing the team from responding to the east and west sides of the Alisal Fire. However, when wind conditions are more favorable, the responding teams will be able to engage with them.
“It’s going to be a challenge as the wind shifts from the offshore winds … to this diurnal onshore flow that we can feel here at camp this afternoon,” Los Padres National Forest Fire Chief Jimmy Harris said, referencing the Earl Warren Showgrounds where the press conference was held.
“So as the wind shifts, it’s actually the most dangerous time, the most critical time of the fire because the fire will change directions on us. We are well-poised to address those challenges with the team that’s come in and the small army of firefighters we’ve amassed here.”
During the press conference, County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said that this fire will take weeks, if not months, to fully put out.
Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann assured the public that the “very best people and the very best resources anywhere in the country” are responding to the fire.
“We’ve been through this many times before. We know how to call people into action, and everyone knows their job and they’re all here,” Hartmann said.
Hartmann encouraged hyper vigilance as California enters its fire season. Though smoke has been clouding the air in Isla Vista, the campus has repeatedly sent emails saying that I.V. is safe from the fires. No evacuation warnings or orders have been issued for I.V.
“UC Santa Barbara officials continue to monitor the Alisal Fire burning approximately 20 miles west of the campus and Isla Vista. Local fire officials continue to advise us that there is no immediate threat to the UC Santa Barbara campus or Isla Vista area. The campus remains open and operational,” an Oct. 12 email from the university read.
The following areas currently have evacuation orders in place: Arroyo Hondo, Tajiguas, Arroyo Quemada, Refugio Canyon, El Capitan State Park and the El Capitan Campground. People residing north of the El Capitan north campground and east to Dos Pueblos Canyon have been given an evacuation warning.
UPDATE [10/11/2021, 9:15 p.m.]: The fire has grown from 1,000 acres to 3,000 acres. The fire is still 20 miles from UCSB.
UPDATE [10/11/2021, 10:12 p.m.]: The fire has grown from 3,000 to 3,700 acres. The fire is still 20 miles away from UCSB.
UPDATE [10/12/2021, 12:21 p.m.]: The fire has grown to 6,000+ acres and has 0% containment. Highway 101 between Winchester and Cathedral Oaks remains closed.
UPDATE [10/12/2021, 2:54 p.m.]: The Board of Supervisors has declared a county-wide state of emergency for the Alisal Fire.
UPDATE [10/12/2021, 3:59 p.m.]: The following locations have been given evacuation warnings: the area east of Calle Mariposa Reina, west of Arroyo Hondo, and south of W Camino Cielo.
UPDATE [10/12/2021, 6:20 p.m.]: The fire is now 8,000 acres.
UPDATE [10/12/2021, 6:47 P.M.]: The fire has now reached 13,400 acres.
UPDATE [10/12/2021, 8:58 p.m.]: The fire is now 5% contained, and at 13,400 acres.
UPDATE: [10/13/2021, 7:37 p.m.]: The fire has grown to 15,442 acres and remains only 5% contained. According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department’s Public Information Officer Mike Eliason, 1,306 personnel are responding to the fire.
UPDATE: [10/14/2021, 1:33 p.m.]: The fire has now grown to 16,801 acres with 5% containment.
UPDATE: [10/17/2021, 11:06 p.m.]: The fire is now 78% contained and holds 17,253 acres. More than 1,600 personnel are still at the scene.
UPDATE: [10/17/2021: 5:06 p.m.]: The Office of Emergency Management cancelled the evacuation orders for the area west of Arroyo Hondo to the intersection of Highway 101 and Highway 1, as well as the Arroyo Hondo Canyon and Refugio Canyon.
The Nexus will continue updating this page as more information becomes available. Please check our live Twitter thread for updates as well.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Oct. 14, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.