By Raiza Giorgi

The plan is to keep the aerial assault and structure protection efforts for Thursday’s fire fight against the #AlisalFire, which is now at 16,801 acres and 5% containment, according to fire officials.

The projected incident activity through the next 12 hours is significant growth potential currently exists due to forecasted northwest to north winds over the fire area pushing the fire both east and west of Refugio Canyon and west of Gato Canyon.

Evacuation orders expanded overnight to include areas west of Arroyo Hondo to Highway 101/Highway 1 interchange to Vista Del Mar school, and down to Gaviota Beach. There is also an evacuation warning for Hollister Ranch, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office.

Photo by Mike Eliason, SBC Fire

Los Padres Forest Service public information officer Andrew Madsen said the Type 1 command will be taking over Thursday and they are highly skilled at these types of wildland fires and will be beneficial into getting the upper hand on the fire. 

“Fire in Santa Barbara County is tricky, especially on the mountains where the terrain is steep. The Type 1 command will being an emphasis to logistics, supply and strategies for tightening containment,” Madsen added. 

The fire is burning in dense chaparral that hasn’t burned since the 1955 Refugio Fire and is being pushed by strong winds and growing at a rapid rate of speed. Smoke is visible throughout southern Santa Barbara County including the Santa Ynez Valley and along the Gaviota coastline. 

Air support units were called in to respond to the fire on Monday but were grounded due to severe winds, but they were able to fly much of Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday, hammering the top of the ridge with phos-chek. Helicopters joined the fire fight Tuesday morning, particularly to keep the flames away from the Reagan Ranch and surrounding properties, Madsen said.

Photo of a DC-10 dropping phos-chek on the ridge of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Photo by Mike Eliason, SBC Fire

He did say there has been one firefighter injured on this incident with a wrist issue and they self reported to Cottage Hospital for treatment.

Highway 101 is closed from Highway 1 at Las Cruces and Winchester Canyon/Cathedral Oaks Road in Goleta. 

A temporary evacuation center was set up at the parking lot of Dos Pueblos High School at 7266 Alameda Avenue in Goleta. As many as 100 structures, including ranches and homes, are threatened. More information at:

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) have upgraded the Air Quality Watch to an Alert for Santa Barbara County, including the Channel Islands. Smoke and ash from the Alisal Fire is affecting air quality, and winds in the forecast are expected to push more smoke onshore. This is a dynamic situation, and local air quality conditions can change quickly.

At the Board meeting of October 12, 2021, the County of Santa Barbara proclaimed a local emergency due to the Alisal Fire.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services has been activated to assist with animal evacuations. Livestock can be taken to the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Animal owners should call 805-681-4332 if assistance is needed to evacuate animals.

Photo of the Alisal Fire by Mike Eliason, SBC Fire.