By Raiza Giorgi


The McMurray Fire that started Monday afternoon as four spot fires along Highway 101 just north of Buellton, is currently at 40 percent containment and holding at 200 acres, according to Santa Barbara County Fire officials. 

There has been one eye injury to a firefighter, however he has been treated and released back to the incident, fire officials said. 

The fire started around 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9 and was driven quickly east and northeast by a steady wind and wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour. Santa Barbara County Fire quickly responded with multiple brush trucks, hand crews, dozers, air tankers and helicopters. Several other neighboring agencies such as CalFire, Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire, Los Padres Fire and Ventura County Fire sent several crews to assist in the fight. 

A heavy equipment company Johnson Excavation, happened to be bringing equipment back to their yard near the fire just after it started and they helped as much as they could. 

Local heavy equipment operator Jordan Graham helped gather calves and bring them to safety when the McMurray Fire started on Monday afternoon.
Photo contributed

“My boss Ben (Johnson) jumped on the dozer and cut breaks down just about every ridge! I took his Polaris Ranger up and we got all the animals accounted for and moved, chased baby cows all over the place and then connected with the fire crews and hand shoveled small brush fires for a couple hours with our whole Johnson crew,” said Jordan Graham, equipment operator. 

Monday afternoon there was also a mandatory evacuation of those who lived west of Ballard Canyon, south of Highway 154, and east of Highway 101 as fire officials were worried about the rate of speed of the fire. The area is populated with mostly cattle, oak trees and areas that have dense brush. The evacuation order was lifted Monday evening. 

Coupled with the fire, there was also a power outage that affected residents from Buellton to Santa Ynez and some 4500 customers were without power until early evening. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

“We have investigators on scene right now but it appears to have been started off of the 101 in multiple spots between Buellton, or McMurray Road, all the way or almost to Highway 154,” Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.

The next update on the McMurray Fire will be 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. 

Noozhawk’s Giana Magnoli contributed to this story, contact her at