Firefighters hammer new fire north of Santa Barbara

Lookout Fire
Lookout Fire
Lookout Fire, 11:21 a.m. PT, October 17, 2012, Credit KEYT

(Originally published at 11:50 a.m. PT, October 17, 2012; updated at 6:00 p.m. PT, October 17, 2012)

UPDATE: The fire is 45 percent contained and evacuations have been lifted. The estimated size is holding at 20 to 25 acres. No structures have been damaged. One firefighter suffered a minor leg injury.


Firefighters are aggressively attacking a new vegetation fire, the Lookout fire, in the Los Padres National Forest six miles northwest of Santa Barbara, California. Approximately 40 structures have been evacuated and another 100 are threatened. The fire is in the 2500 block of Highway 154.

Tanker 41 drops on Lookout fire
Tanker 41 drops on Lookout fire, 12:06 p.m. PT, October 17, 2012. A screen grab, credit KEYT

(A better photo of Tanker 41 dropping is at

Early in the fire, which was reported around 8 a.m. PT, at least five and according to some reports as many as eight air tankers were ordered.

KEYT is live-streaming video of the fire.

Lookout Fire
Lookout Fire, S2T drop, 11:23 a.m. PT, October 17, 2012. Credit KEYT

Captain David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department said at 11:00 a.m. PT the fire had burned about 15 acres. It is burning on a steep slope in very heavy brush below homes. At 11:50 a.m. the size was estimated at 20 to 30 acres by a firefighter interviewed by KEYT. The spread of the fire has slowed, but there is still a lot of open line left in thick vegetation.

This is an example of how firefighters in some areas of California use overwhelming force to aggressively attack new fires. After having burned for  about 3.5 hours, if they can keep it at 20-25 acres, it will be another success story.

Map of Lookout fire
Map of Lookout fire

The resources that were dispatched to the fire during the early stages included:

  • 3 Dozers
  • 4 Hand Crews
  • 5 Air Tankers
  • 7 Engines
  • 3 Helicopters
  • 3 Water Tenders

Thanks go out to Kelly

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Firefighters hammer new fire north of Santa Barbara”

  1. 8 airtankers were observed flying the fire on AFF.

    Looked like 3 Type 1 helicopters and 5 Type 2 Helicopters also were involved.

    Seems like a lot of resources for such a small fire UNTIL you look at the “Sunset Fire” (CA-RRU) today that had 23 engines; 4 airtankers; 3 helicopters; 4 crews; and 5 watertenders assigned… TO A FOUR ACRE FIRE in an ILLEGAL SHOOTING area with MULTIPLE fires in the last three months.

    At some point, a balance between “rapid and effective response” must be balanced with “what are you as a taxpayer willing to pay for”? Fire Suppression vs Fire Prevention?

    BLM “free target shooting” areas seem to be out of control. IMHO.

    See: “Exploding targets, an increasing wildfire problem” and I would bet you could find a LINK


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