Thousands told to evacuate below burn scars in Santa Barbara area as heavy rain is predicted

The evacuation order begins at 10 a.m. January 15

Fire debris flow flooding Santa Barbara evacuation map
Map showing areas under evacuation orders beginning at 10 a.m. January 15, 2019. Santa Barbara County. Click to enlarge.

Three to four thousand residents in areas below the footprints of three recent fires in Southern California’s Santa Barbara County have been ordered to evacuate as a winter storm approaches which could lead to debris flows below the Sherpa, Whittier, and Thomas fires burn areas. The evacuation order is in effect beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday January 15.

Thomas Fire debris flow flooding
Mud and debris flow in Montecito below the Thomas Fire, January 9, 2018. Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara FD.

Santa Barbara County has more information about the evacuation, including a map. A Red Cross shelter will be open at 10 a.m. at Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave., Goleta. Two schools are closed and three are holding classes at alternative sites.

The National Weather Service is predicting 1.5 to 3 inches of rain in the Santa Barbara area with up to 4.5 inches locally on south-facing slopes. Peak hourly rainfall rates could reach 0.75 to 1.25 inches. The heavy rain should taper off Tuesday night, followed by showers on Wednesday which will increase to heavy rain again Wednesday night.

Fire debris flow flooding Santa Barbara

Successful initial attacks in Santa Barbara County

A crew constructs fireline on the Drum Fire September 29, 2018 at Hwy. 246 and Drum Canyon. SBC photo.

The big wildfires that burn homes and thousands of acres are the ones that make the news. We rarely hear about the successful, aggressive initial attacks on new fires that never grow to more than a handful of acres.

On Friday and Saturday of this week firefighters in Santa Barbara County in Southern California squashed two fires, keeping them both to less than three acres.

The credit for these photos goes to Santa Barbara County.  @EliasonMike of SBC distributed them on Twitter.

Drum Fire
Drum Fire, at Hwy. 246 and Drum Canyon, September 29, 2018.
Peak Fire
An S-2T makes a drop on the Peak Fire, Gaviota Peak near Hwy 101/SR-1, September 28, 2018.
Peak Fire
A helicopter makes a drop on the Peak Fire, Gaviota Peak near Hwy 101/SR-1, September 28, 2018.