Whittier Fire showed moderate growth on Monday

Above: A 3-D map of the Whittier Fire, looking west. The perimeter at 2:30 a.m. PDT on July 11 is shown in red. The white line was the perimeter 28 hours before.

(Originally published at 7:38 a.m. PDT July 11, 2017)

The Whittier Fire six miles northwest of Goleta, California showed moderate growth on Monday. The most active areas were the south side and the upper slopes on the east and west sides. The Incident Management Team has not changed the reported size yet and is still calling it 10,823 acres.  The onshore breeze, higher humidity, and cooler temperatures worked in favor of the firefighters.

On Monday dozers worked the east flank from the Winchester Gun Club toward Hwy. 154. On the west side firefighters improved initial firelines and scouted for an area to complete the line up to Santa Ynez Ridge.

Whittier fire map
The perimeter of the Whittier Fire at 2:30 a.m. PDT on July 11 is shown in red. The white line was the perimeter 28 hours before.

Retardant lines are temporarily holding the south line while the incident management team works with local ranchers and residents to determine the best location for a fire line north of Goleta.

Most of the area within the perimeter of the fire has not burned since the Refugio Fire in 1955. Over the last several years these fuels have been stressed by the exceptional drought conditions and a high percentage of the fuel bed is dead. The combination of old, dry fuels with a newly cured heavy grass crop contributed to the rapid growth of this fire.

A total of 842 firefighters are assigned, including 97 fire engines, 11 hand crews, 8 dozers, 8 helicopters, and 2 water tenders.

The 20 structures that burned during the early stages of the fire included 8 residences and 12 outbuildings.

The weather forecast for the north side of the fire today predicts mostly sunny skies, 84 degrees, 40 percent relative humidity, and 7 mph southwest winds gusting to 12. Similar conditions are expected to continue through Thursday.

The photo below makes me wonder if binoculars were available during the briefing.

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 was very active Sunday, but was slowed overnight by high humidity

Above: Whittier Fire, looking west from Santa Ynez Peak at 5:53 a.m. PDT July 10, 2017.

(Originally published at 6:25 a.m. PDT July 10, 2017)

The Whittier Fire was very active all day Sunday and into the evening and as of 10:30 p.m. a mapping aircraft observed intense heat along most of the perimeter. The exception was the north side near Lake Cachuma and the lower slopes along San Marcos Pass Road.

Sunday night after midnight the relative humidity at Santa Ynez and Los Prietos climbed into the 60s and 70s and by dawn some of the cameras on Santa Ynez Peak captured what looked like either fog or smoked trapped in a valley inversion.

map Whittier Fire
Map of the Whittier Fire showing the perimeter acquired from an aircraft at 10:30 p.m. PDT July 9, 2017. Click to enlarge.

The Incident Management Team announced Monday morning the fire has burned 10,823 acres. Evacuations are still in effect and San Marcos Pass Road, Highway 154, is closed.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Monday is moderate by fire behavior standards. Temperatures on the north side of the fire near Lake Cachuma should be in the low 80s, the relative humidity in the low 40s, and a sea breeze will be southeast to southwest at 7 to 9 mph with gusts up to 14.

map Whittier Fire 3-D
3-D map of the Whittier Fire showing the perimeter acquired from an aircraft at 10:30 p.m. PDT July 9, 2017.
Whittier Fire
Looking north from Santa Ynez Peak at 5:53 a.m. PDT July 10, 2017.

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 as seen at Santa Ynez Peak

Cameras on Santa Ynez Peak nine miles northwest of Goleta recorded these images Sunday between 10 a.m. and 2:21 p.m. PDT. As you can see the fire burned up to the peak which has many electronic sites, various radio repeaters, transmission towers, and cell phone facilities. The fire caused the commercial electricity to be interrupted at the site, but the tower these cameras are on and probably others are being powered by emergency generators.

Whittier Fire Santa Ynez Peak Whittier Fire Santa Ynez Peak Whittier Fire Santa Ynez Peak

The cameras are operated by the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN), a University of California San Diego partnership project led by the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

Whittier Fire Santa Ynez Peak
This camera was hit by fire retardant, which covered the lens.

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 burns structures and forces evacuations northwest of Goleta, CA

Above: A camera on Santa Ynez Peak captured this image of the Whittier Fire at 11:11 a.m. PDT July 9, 2017.

(Originally published at 8:35 a.m. PDT July 9, 2017)
(Updated at 5:51 p.m. PDT July 9, 2017)

The Whittier Fire has been spreading very rapidly through very old, decadent, thick brush since it started at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday near Lake Cachuma six miles southeast of Santa Ynez in southern California.

Sunday morning’s National Situation Report said 20 structures have been destroyed, and the resources assigned include 7 hand crews, 32 engines, and 11 helicopters, for a total of 400 personnel. These numbers, probably assembled Saturday evening, may be a little behind the power curve for such as rapidly spreading wildfire.

Whittier Fire Santa Ynez
The Whittier Fire near near Lake Cachuma was photographed by a web camera on Santa Ynez Peak at 4:23 p.m. PDT a few hours after it started Saturday afternoon. Click to enlarge.

The Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center reported Sunday morning that it had burned 7,800 acres.

The weather forecast for the fire area is not extreme, by fire weather standards. It predicts, depending on the elevation and the proximity to the coast, temperatures in the high 80’s to low 90’s, humidities in the low 30’s, and south to southwest winds of about 7 mph gusting to 11.

map Whittier Fire
The red dots represent heat detected on the Whittier Fire by a satellite at 1:13 p.m. MDT July 9, 2017. The fire is probably larger than seen here, but this is what the satellite detected Sunday afternoon. Click to enlarge. When the Incident Management Team releases a map showing the fire perimeter as well as the vicinity, we will show it on the website..

This is one of two wildfires burning in Santa Barbara County. The other is the Alamo Fire about four miles east of Santa Maria.

According to Inciweb late Saturday night, mandatory Evacuation Orders have been issued for:

  • Highway 154 from Armour Ranch Road on the west to Paradise Road on the east;
  • W. Camino Cielo from the Winchester Gun Club east to Highway 154;
  • Kinevan Road, and;
  • Farren Road

Hwy 154 is closed from State Route 246 to Foothill Road.

Mark Von Tillow’s Type 1 Incident Management Team has been dispatched and should arrive at the fire Sunday.

Whittier Fire Santa Ynez
The Whittier Fire near near Lake Cachuma was photographed by a web camera on Santa Ynez Peak at 6:38 Saturday afternoon. Click to enlarge.

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.

Outstanding photos of Whittier Fire, Southern California

Above: Photo of the Whittier Fire at 4:23 p.m. PDT July 8 2017. If you look in the lower left, you’ll see a DC-10 just beginning a retardant drop. Click to enlarge.

A web camera near Santa Ynez, California is taking some fascinating photos of the Whittier Fire that started at about 1:45 p.m. PDT Saturday near Camp Whittier on Hwy 154 near Lake Cachuma approximately seven miles east of Santa Ynez.

The fire is on the Los Padres National Forest. At 6:56 p.m. Saturday they estimated it had burned 330 acres.

Hwy 154 is closed from 246 to State Route 192.

The photos below were acquired around 6:20 p.m. PDT July 8. Click on them to see larger versions.

Whittier Fire Santa Ynez

Whittier Fire Santa Ynez

Whittier Fire Santa Ynez

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.