4TH DAY OF SANTA BARBARA INFERNO: 21,000 FORCED TO FLEE 10,000 More Warned - Be Ready To Run May 09, 2009
Fire plane drops retardant down on the Santa Barbara fires. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(SANTA BARBARA, CA) -- A devastating, wind-whipped wildfire burned for a fourth straight day Friday above the picturesque seaside town of Santa Barbara, California some 90 miles north of L.A.
So far the out of control blaze has damaged or destroyed 80 homes and local fire officials say some 3500 other homes and up to 100 commercial business buildings are in harm’s way.
In what is now being called the Jesusita fire in the hills above Santa Barbara, more than 8,600 acres of trees, wild grasses, plants and scrub brush have been consumed by the blaze.
In what can literally be called a huge firestorm, local firefighters have had their hands full in trying to contain it due to unpredictable, hot winds that pick up and change direction at any given moment.
Fire officials say things are worst at night when winds called “sundowners” in California fire lingo abruptly kick up and push the tall flames through steep canyons and close to or into neighborhoods of luxury homes,
So far no civilians have been reported injured in the fire but the blaze has injured 11 firefighters. Three of the firefighters were hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation.
As of late last (Friday) night some 21,000 area residents were under a mandatory evacuation order. Another 10,000 residents had been warned they should be ready to leave their homes at a moment's notice. That total is about one third of the entire population of Santa Barbara.
Regarding the magnitude of the fire Santa Barbara Fire Chief Andrew DiMizio told Reporters, "Right now, if you are not evacuated in the Santa Barbara area, you are sheltering evacuees. This has affected the entire community."
He said fire crews staged a heroic fight to keep the flames from the fire moving southward through a key park in the community and then on into the city proper area.
CLICK PLAY BUTTON ON VIDEO PLAYER BELOW TO SEE LATEST VIDEO OF THE FIRE COURTESY OF KSBW-TV MONTEREY
The area's last major brush fire back in November wiped out more than 200 homes in Santa Barbara and nearby communities. That fire was blamed on a bonfire started by local students. This fire remains under investigation.
See raw video footage (below) shot Thursday night May 7, 2009 by a Santa Barbara resident of the raging Jesusita fire in the hills around Santa Barbara California. Here is how shooter Mac Faulkner described what he caught on tape:
“After the winds picked up on Thursday night, the mountains behind the La Cumbre shopping center in Santa Barbara exploded into flames, some reaching thousands of feet in the air. This was one of the most intense firestorms to watch, and even though we were far enough back, the heat was still intense. Shortly after we left, my girlfriend Jenny's horses were evacuated from the Amapola Ranch off of Turnpike. Over 60 horses were evacuated within the hour.”
CLICK PLAY ON THE VIDEO BUTTON BELOW
More raw video of the Santa Barbara fire below, shot in the evening on May 8, 2009 by YouNews reporter swanny338. This video shows how rapidly the fire is closing in on the regular commercial-residential areas of Santa Barbara.