Little change in Whittier Fire on Monday

Above: The view from the HPWREN camera on Santa Ynez Peak in the middle of the Whittier Fire, looking south at 12:27 p.m. PDT July 18, 2017.

(Originally published at 12:54 p.m. PDT July 18, 2017)

There has not been much change in the status of the Whittier Fire northwest of Goleta, California. Over the last 24 hours satellites have not detected many large heat sources, and the size reported by fire officials has not changed since Sunday morning.

Below is an excerpt from information supplied by the Incident Management Team on Tuesday:

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“Crews working on the eastern perimeter completed a containment line in Bear Creek Canyon, preventing the fire from crossing the creek. The fire continues backing down-slope on the western and southern perimeters.

The northern perimeter is transitioning to patrol and mop-up. Crews on the eastern perimeter are using bulldozers and hand-crews to build line and construct contingency lines. The southern perimeter is backing and is heavily influenced by the marine layer.

Above the marine layer expect active fire behavior; below the marine layer, minimal fire spread is expected due to high humidity.

Fifteen water-dropping helicopters and four fixed-wing air tankers are supporting crews as needed to help cool hot spots.”

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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.

Update on structures burned in Whittier Fire, which grew slightly on Monday

Above: 3-D map of the Whittier Fire, looking north. Current at 9:30 p.m. PDT July 16, 2017.

(Originally published at 10:08 a.m. PDT July 17, 2017)

Relatively mild weather conditions aided firefighters on the Whittier Fire Sunday which expanded by less than 300 acres, bringing the total up to 18,311. The relative humidity at San Marcos Pass actually increased after 10 a.m. and hovered around 70 percent, and then after midnight went up to 89 percent. At 9 a.m. Monday it was still very high — 74 percent. Similar conditions should persist through Wednesday, but Thursday through Saturday could see stronger afternoon and evening winds of 10 to 14 mph.

Whittier Fire Del Rosa Hotshots
Del Rosa Hotshots on the Whittier Fire. Undated photo posted to Inciweb July 16, 2017.

Since structures burned during the early hours of the fire the number destroyed has been listed as 20. The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management has now updated their figures and determined that a total of 46 structures were destroyed, which includes 16 residences and 30 other structures. The other structures were detached garages, barns, bunkhouses, or other improvements.

The number of personnel assigned to the Whittier Fire increased by 347 Sunday, bringing the total to 2,271.

Whittier Fire map
Map of the Whittier Fire, current at 9:30 p.m. PDT July 16, 2017. Click to enlarge.

Nationally there are 14,205 personnel assigned to wildfires — on 331 hand crews, 999 engines, and 110 helicopters.

Whittier Fire
Whittier Fire. Undated photo posted to Inciweb July 16, 2017.
Whittier Fire
The Whittier Fire as seen from Santa Ynez Peak Monday morning, July 17. HPWREN photo.
Whittier Fire MAFFS C-130
A National Guard MAFFS C-130 drops on the Whittier Fire. Undated photo posted to Inciweb July 16, 2017.
Whittier Fire
Fire retardant coats the lens on an HPWREN camera at Santa Ynez Peak, July 17, 2017.

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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.

Whittier Fire slows, but keeps spreading west and south

Above: The Whittier Fire as seen from Santa Ynez Peak at 7:13 a.m. PDT July 16, 2017.

(Originally published at 7:55 a.m. PDT July 16, 2017)

The Whittier Fire was less active Saturday than in previous days but it added another 651 acres to bring the total burned area up to 18,015 acres, according to the data from a mapping flight at 12:30 a.m on Sunday. Most of that increase was on the northwest side but the south flank also advanced slowly down the slope.

map Whittier Fire
3-D map of the Whittier Fire looking east. The red line was the perimeter at 12:30 a.m. PDT July 16, 2017. The white line was the perimeter 25 hours earlier. The red shaded area represents intense heat.

The weather forecast for Saturday night predicted Sundowner winds but a weather station at San Marcos Pass recorded mostly mild conditions overnight — winds of 1 to 4 mph gusting at 6 to 11 with the relative humidity hovering around 60 percent. The weather forecasters are having a hard time accurately predicting the Sundowner winds.

map Whittier Fire
Map of the Whittier Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 12:30 a.m. PDT July 16, 2017. The white line was the perimeter 25 hours earlier.

Firefighters working on the eastern side are striving to keep the fire from reaching Bear Creek. The southwest corner of the fire burned into the last year’s Sherpa Fire Saturday and stalled out due to a lack of fuel.

Evacuations are still in effect. (see map)

Resources assigned to the fire include 38 hand crews, 145 fire engines, 30 water tenders, 4 masticators, 6 fixed wing aircraft, 13 helicopters, and 18 dozers for a total of 1,924 personnel.

Engine Crew from Rogue River Whittier Fire
An Engine Crew from Rogue River mops up the Whittier Fire July 14, 2017. Inciweb photo.

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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.

Firefighters concerned about possible sundowner winds on 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.

Firefighters making progress on Whittier Fire, but it was very active on west side Tuesday

Above: A 3-D map of the Whittier Fire looking southeast. The data was updated at 7:30 p.m. PDT July 11, 2017. The areas shaded in light red were burning very actively when the fire was mapped.

(Originally published at 7:52 a.m. PDT July 1, 2017) 

Firefighters have completed a containment line around almost half of the Whittier Fire northwest of Goleta, California, but it was still very active in some areas Tuesday. On the east side it spread into Hot Springs Canyon putting up a large plume of smoke that got the attention of residents in Goleta and Santa Barbara. But as of 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday the east side was still about half a mile away from San Marcos Pass Road which has served as a barrier on the north side.

By 7:30 p.m. Tuesday it had burned 11,920 acres.

map Whittier Fire
Map of the Whittier Fire updated at 7:30 p.m. PDT July 11, 2017. The areas shaded in red were burning very actively when the fire was mapped. Click to enlarge.

A containment line is complete on the northwest side from San Marcos Pass Road up to the rock quarry, but beyond that, going up the slope, the terrain is much more steep and complex. Firefighters are scouting that area up to the ridge, hoping to find a route for a line.

Wednesday morning a deeper marine layer put a damper on fire activity. Later in the day the forecast for the north side of the fire calls for mostly sunny skies, 88 degrees, 37 percent relative humidity, and winds at 8 mph gusting to 12 shifting from the southeast to the southwest and eventually out of the west.

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.