By Raiza Giorgi
Santa Ynez Valley residents got a great lightning and thunder show, with scattered showers and even hail in Buellton on Saturday morning, however the intense storm also caused a long power outage, with some Solvang residents not getting power until early Sunday morning.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Los Padres National Forest responded to the Alisal Ranch for a report of a vegetation fire following a lightning strike. The spot fire only burned about a 30-foot spot, according to SBC Fire officials. Shortly after there was another vegetation fire in Drum Canyon in Los Alamos and crews from Solvang diverted to Los Alamos.
Later in the morning fire crews from multiple agencies responded to a larger vegetation fire, also believed to be caused by lighting strikes at Hollister Ranch in Gaviota. The Surf Fire burned 7 acres before they stopped forward progress. The fire threatened one structure briefly, but there was no damage, according to fire officials.
Around 9:30 a.m. the power went out to the entire Santa Ynez Valley and when the storm passed in the early afternoon, temperatures soared quickly from the upper 80’s to the low 100’s, according to the National Weather Service.
“PG&E crews work safely to restore power as quickly as possible; however, the restoration times were delayed due to the unprecedented thunderstorm activity and the quick escalation of the storm,” said PG&E Spokeswoman Diana Turk.
Turk explained after a storm, crews’ first task is to assess the damage. In the case of a major, widespread storm, this assessment can take days. During this phase, customers may see PG&E trucks in their neighborhood as people continue to experience an outage. The information they gather helps us plan the work.
“In an outage situation, addressing hazardous situations such as downed wires is priority. Next, we focus on restoring as many customers as we can, as quickly as possible. We also prioritize repairs that restore service to critical facilities such as hospitals, water pumping stations, and police and fire departments,” Turk said.