Firefighters concerned about possible sundowner winds on Whittier Fire

map whittier fire

Above: 3-D map of the Whittier Fire current as of 10 p.m. PDT July 13, 2017. The red shaded areas had more intense heat than other locations.

(UPDATED at 9:18 p.m. PDT July 14, 2017)

Here is a map showing some of the expansion of the Whittier Fire that was detected by a satellite at 1:24 p.m. PDT on Friday July 14. It is likely that the fire continued growing after that time.

Whittier Fire map
Whittier Fire map, showing the area in yellow that was growing at 1:24 p.m. PDT July 14, 2017. Click to enlarge.

The weather forecast for Friday night indicates that the fire on the upper section of the south-facing slope below Santa Ynez Peak above the marine layer could remain active at least until sunrise. In that area the relative humidity will be in the low 20’s with a wind out of the northeast at 12 to 15 mph gusting at 18 to 23. There could be gusts above 30 mph from 10 to 11 p.m. Friday night.

On Saturday the winds will decrease during the day on that upper slope but pick up again after 6 p.m. with north-northwest winds of 23 mph gusting to 35.

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(UPDATED at 3:48 p.m. PDT July 14, 2017)

The Whittier Fire has been extremely active on Friday, putting up large columns of smoke. Evacuations are in effect in several areas.

If you put the video below on full screen you’ll see a DC-10 making a retardant drop low on the slopes northwest of Goleta, CA.

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(Published at 10:20 a.m. PDT July 14, 2017)

Firefighters on the Whittier Fire northwest of Goleta, California have made some limited progress in constructing fireline around the blaze over the last two days. Approximately half of that task is done, but the remaining sections are in steep, difficult terrain. A large flare-up south of Santa Ynez Peak that started after sundown Thursday and continued until about 1 a.m. had some residents of Goleta and Santa Barbara worried. It occurred on the upper slope above fuels that have been influenced by the marine layer.

A weather forecast that includes the possibility of sundowner winds Friday afternoon concerns firefighters since they could produce wind gusts of 25-30 mph through passes and gaps in the vicinity of the fire. The forecast for Friday for the upper slope below and south of Santa Ynez Peak, updated at 10 a.m. on Friday, is for 88 degrees, 31 percent relative humidity, and winds out of the west at 12 mph gusting to 18. After 6 p.m. the winds should become out of the northwest at 19 gusting to 29. The incident management team is bringing in additional firefighters for this wind event.

map whittier fire
Map of the Whittier Fire current as of 10 p.m. PDT July 13, 2017. The red shaded areas had more intense heat than other locations. Click to enlarge.

The fire was mapped Thursday night at 13,199 acres. Resources assigned include 1,240 personnel, 92 fire engines, 23 hand-crews, 16 dozers, 12 helicopters, and 23 water tenders.

The video below by KEYT was streamed live on YouTube, showing and explaining the activities at a facility set up at the Whittier Fire for mixing retardant for helicopters that could draft to refill their tanks; that is, through a hose on the helicopter they pumped retardant from a tank on the ground while hovering. The 11-minute video did not show any ships with buckets — just Type 1 helicopters with internal or external tanks.

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All of the articles we have written about the fire are tagged “Whittier Fire” and can be found here, with the most recent at the top.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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4 thoughts on “Firefighters concerned about possible sundowner winds on Whittier Fire”

  1. Yup. I guess the Whittier is heating up with the predicted Sundowners. Just watched a Fire Boss departing Santa Maria. LR

  2. FYI-your probable source, Inciweb, omitted the Winchester Commons neighborhood as excluded in the mandatory evacuation zone on Winchester Canyon Road. According to several news sources and the County of Santa Barbara website, this is only an evacuation warning zone.
    Thanks,

    To Inciweb:

    It appears that your information regarding mandatory evacuation on the Whittier Fire page is incomplete-and other news sources are picking it up.

    Your main page on the Whittier Fire states “All of Winchester Canyon Road excluding the community of Wagon Wheel (Drive) and Langlo Ranch Road, west to El Capitan Road.” (See attached screen grab of your page)

    However, it failed to mention that the Winchester Commons neighborhood is also excluded-something that the County of Santa Barbara website (http://www.countyofsb.org/whittierfire.sbc#whittier) and news sources like Noozhawk, the Santa Barbara Independent and KEYT appeared to have done.

    I am assuming this is merely a typo, but it really helps to have the correct information stated for those of us living in the affected areas.

  3. My sister lives in Goleta, so we are praying hard for the sundowner winds not to materialize. (Fri & Sat)
    The fire fighters & pilots & every one involved getting people & pets out, saving homes, in all in this heat, poison oak, impossible terrain…..you guys are truly amazing! We are proud of you & admire your stamina & courage!!!

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