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.

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. Google+

26 thoughts on “Whittier fire burns structures and forces evacuations northwest of Goleta, CA”

  1. ‪Mother lives @campwhittier Came up so fast only had X 2 grab animals & grandkids No X 2 change, left in bathingsuit Is her home Ok?‬

  2. I taught a chainsaw safety class for the Boy Scouts National Camping School this past March at Camp Rancho Alegre. Here’s hoping the camp escaped the fire.

    1. It did not. All of Rancho alegre burnt down except the dining hall and the pool house. So sad.

      1. I used to live in the little house by the managers house at Rancho Alegre. My daughter was born while living there. It was a great time of life. My neighbors were the McDonalds. Did all those structures go?

          1. How absolutely devastating. My thoughts and prayers are with you. My daughter informed me Jim McDonald passed away a couple weeks ago. I can still hear and see him out at the ranch. He worked so hard and joyously taking care of Ranco Alegre.

      2. I have taken my students the last seven years to Outdoor School which was always a high point of their junior high years-prayers for the Boy Scouts and all the Outdoor Ed personnel.
        St.Paschal Baylon
        Thousand Oaks

  3. Any information on the ranches nearby? Bacon, St. Francis and Rancho Santa Barbara and Rancho San Fernando Rey? So many people and animals in harms way.

  4. So sorry to hear about Rancho Alegre. Is there any information on the damage to the Lake Cachuma campground? We have a trailer in storage there.

  5. At noon PDT Sun sighting along Glen Annie Rd, the entire SE front (that directly threatens Goleta) was smoke free. It appeared to me that this front country corner was burned but not even smoking. I imagine hand crews and possibly dozers would be cutting line and mopping up.
    There was lots of smoke on the backside on the eastern front, which would be headed towards Cold Springs Tavern.
    At 2pm I can sight down the North-South Ellwood Beach Drive, and the sliver of front country I can see all still seems calm, and the backside smoke is still all to the west of this N/S bearing.
    At noon I had a great view of the front country; regarding the “satellite at 3:31 a.m” graphic, I am sure the few heat spots on the south side of the ridge north of the Isla Vista and Goleta map labels are not spot fires. I’m also skeptical of the large cluster of heat spots north of the ridge this far east separated from the main body of the fire.
    (1977 Seasonal LPNF USFS Engine Crewman)

  6. I use to be a programs director at Camp Whittier, so far I’ve heard of a couple structures burning down at camp, no injuries and for the most part camp is still standing. My heart goes out to my really good friends have lost their house that was on camp thank god they are safe and sound now. I really hope we could rebuild what we have lost, so many great memories and lives touched through summer camp.

  7. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected by the fire. Any news about structures at Lake Cachuma campground?

  8. (from a bystander in Riverside) Seeing the posts and reading behind the words to the emotional losses expressed brings home the devastation even more than pictures. Once in a while, the words tell more than the pictures. I sincerely hope that those people whose lives have been enriched so clearly by their shared love of the area will stay in contact with each other, and gain solace and strength as a community. If even a semblance of the physical environment can be brought back to life, I think it will be the result of the efforts of the people most affected. I guess there is a reason why fire itself is our vision of hell.

  9. The “new” poolhouse, dining hall, & Miller’s Outpost cabin are the only buildings that remain intact.

  10. Does anyone know if the old TMS (Thomas More Storke) Ranch off Hwy 154 was burned, if any of the building burned? My sister Carol Storke said the ranch burned but just wondering if the building burned. That was my Grandfather Storke’s old place. Used to go up there and he’s ride us in his jeeps on the “steep” dirt roads.

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