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Loma Alta Fire
updated: Jan 21, 2013, 9:29 PM

By the Urban Hikers

At approximately 5:45 p.m. on Monday evening several reports were made to the Santa Barbara Fire Department regarding massive flames, as called in by multiple reporting parties. In addition, several motorists stopped at Station 1, on W. Carrillo Street to alert firefighters about the blaze. We were enjoying the sunset from Channel Drive when we noticed very visible flames erupting from the “alligator.”

Crews from Station 1 were first to arrive on scene, four minutes after the initial report was received. The Captain from Engine 1 immediately recognized the need for additional help, and called for more firefighters and other resources.

In all, 9 Engines and 40 firefighters were on scene, including firefighters from SBFD and SB Co. Fire. Montecito FD provided backup coverage for the eastern part of the City while the fire was being fought.

As part of the very aggressive response to this vegetation fire, a helicopter was requested. Because SB County's helicopter was in service with another call, a helicopter from Ventura Co. was requested. At 6:05, the request for Ventura's helicopter was withdrawn due to the fact that the fire was under control by then.

At least two structures in the 400 block of Miramonte Dr. were threatened, which led to a potential evacuation order. Firefighters were able to defend the homes from one of the residences located directly above Loma Alta. Luckily, the firefighters' immediate response saved the homes from serious damage. At least one of the homes, a patio enclosure suffered some minor damage when the glass panels blew out from the heat of the advancing flames.

On scene were interim Fire Chief Patrick McElroy and the Fire Investigator. It was noted that the low humidity and low winds were advantageous to the firefighting effort, along with the moist hillside on which the blaze began. Less helpful were the very steep, muddy conditions of the hillside, which is covered in large patches of poison oak.

Paramedics were on scene, but luckily, as of this time, no civilians nor firefighters were injured in the efforts. SBPD provided traffic control.

Firefighters will remain on scene throughout most of the night for mop up and to ensure that no flare- ups occur. An investigator will also be inspecting the scene, as well as interviewing witnesses to discover the cause of the fire.

This was the third of three vegetation fires today, and we questioned firefighters about this. While there is no definitive cause for this fire, investigators and fire personnel will be working to determine whether it is coincidence, or whether there is a relationship with any or all of todays three vegetation fires.

Thank you firefighters for your amazing efforts and for your heroic work today keeping our town safe.

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Fire at Loma Alta and Cliff. Structures possibly involved. Full Response! [pics] (01/22/13)
6406 29

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 365985P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-21 10:11 PM

UH - Low humidity was advantageous to the firefighting effort?

 

 COMMENT 365987P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-21 11:25 PM

Thanks, UHs! Great reporting.

(I must agree with 985P [/tiny virtual print.] I'm sure it was a brain freeze. Will be good to edit the report.)

 

 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 06:54 AM

Thank you, UHs, for the detailed information. The pictures are great, especially the 1st one, it's beautiful.

 

 COMMENT 366004P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 07:29 AM

I really appreciate the great coverage and photos.

 

 COMMENT 366027 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 08:27 AM

Another transient-set fire....confirmed.

 

 COMMENT 366032 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 08:51 AM

AGAIN, another vagrant related fire. They (vagrants) impact everyone in the City. Whether getting off the freeway and seeing the "camps" with the associated beggars on the off-ramps, to aggressive panhandlers getting in the faces of tourists and locals alike, loitering, public urination, the list goes on... My last post on this subject was removed, as it is politically uncorrect. Is it uncorrect to mention the HUGE cost of the "Homeless Industry" in SB as well? The thousands of county, city, housing authority employees who need the "homeless" to be here so they don't have to work in say, Fresno. There are cheaper places where these "homeless" can rent a room for a couple hundred bucks a month-but the homeless industry won't talk about it as it's OUR problem, here in SB... I call BS.

 

 COMMENT 366037 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 09:02 AM

I totally agree with 032. At least half of the "homeless" are really "hopeless". By hopeless I mean to say that nothing that we do for these people is productive or constructive.

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 09:03 AM

Where has this fire been confirmed it was Homeless related?

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 09:08 AM

I've looked at acouple news sites and I don't see where the fire has been confirmed as started by the homeless will someone please point me in the right direction as to where this has been confirmed?

 

 COMMENT 366059P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 09:55 AM

The fire probably wasn't started by a homeless person. The fire started next to the road (Loma Alta) and the terrain there is way too steep to camp. My guess: a cig out of a car window.

If you have trouble with the above, simply drive by and look for yourself.

 

 COMMENT 366065 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 10:04 AM

Roger, it's just prejudiced folks jumping to their prejudiced conclusions.... no facts required.

Personally I wonder what their utopian society would look like if people can be removed and interned just on the basis of their life style choices. And where would it stop? If a "bum's" freedom and liberty can be trounced on so easily what's to keep everyone else's freedoms safe? especially if you don't conform to what "society" thinks is acceptable.

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 10:26 AM

I questioned it because there are other possiblities, there were witnesses and there are always questions. People want to be right not just grab every Joe off the street and blame them..

 

 COMMENT 366088 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 10:41 AM

From past experience, cigarettes get blamed for a lot more fires than they deserve. Case in point...You seldom see roadside fires caused by cigarettes and when you do it is in Paso Robles or some other much drier clime. Cigarettes usually need "packed" materials (like a couch) much like the cigarette itself to cause a fire.

My guess is "human caused." And transient would probably be a second good guess.

Could be from an auto or other source as well, but probably NOT cigarettes...

 

 COMMENT 366093 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 10:50 AM

I live nearby and have seen homeless coming from both uphill and downhill of Loma Alta in that area. The vegetation is very thick, and although some of this hillside is regularly grazed by Brush Goats 4 Hire, the area that caught fire is not.

Thanks to all of the firefighters for putting this out quickly!

 

 COMMENT 366096 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 11:00 AM

I'm calling "Baloney" on all these warming fires.
It was 80 degrees in SB yesterday,76 by the evening.
Why do you need a warming fire?
The one at Butterfly beach was at 11:30 in the AM. Warming fire? Sit in the sun you'll be plenty warm.

 

 COMMENT 366107 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 11:21 AM

The "warming" fires cover what the bums use as "cooking" fires. TV hill is full of homeless encampments. They have actually dug out holes in the side of the hillside to live in. There is human waste, trash, used needles, bottles, etc on that hill.

 

 COMMENT 366108 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 11:21 AM

366059P - The entire hillside below TV hill is a well-known hangout for homeless. Has been for many many years.

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 11:33 AM

I know about the homeless on the hillside I know of a cave up there too..I also know there might be an active arsonist or two in town. Until the facts are in...It's not always the homeless..

 

 COMMENT 366120 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 11:44 AM

11:43am - I hear fire engines again near KMart.

 

 COMMENT 366126P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 11:51 AM

Not the entire hill, most of the hill was cleaned out and fenced off a few years ago.

And Roger might be right about an arsonist. In 2005 there were 28 unsolved arson fires along the train tracks. Just a few blocks from last night's fire.

 

 COMMENT 366131 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 11:54 AM

Roger.... of course. Until the facts are in all the conjecture is just that... make believe. That make believe is also a window into people's prejudice and bias.

 

 COMMENT 366175 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 01:18 PM

Yeah, the "homeless" aren not really any concern in SB...!
(yeah right)

 

 COMMENT 366188 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 01:55 PM

It was noted that the low humidity and low winds were advantageous to the firefighting..."

Since when has low humidity ever been advantageous to firefighting? I think this was reported backwards.

 

 COMMENT 366190P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 02:03 PM

I don't know why Roger didn't report it, but during the fire investigation it was stated on the scanner that a reporting party said that homeless were seen and camping in the area where the fire started.

All previous posts are mainly speculation - Which I suppose is fine. This actually includes some data.

The FD hasn't come out and said it was homeless caused at this point, as far as I know. But this is what they said on the scanner. They started talking to each other on cell instead of the scanner shortly after this went out.

 

 COMMENT 366203 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 02:22 PM

It's time for the city to clear that hillside of encampments.

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 02:34 PM

@190P The reason why I did not report the homeless encampments is because a vehicle was also seen crusing the area and it might have been an arson. Some of you just wanna go out there with torches and pitch forks and hunt homeless people and blame them for everything that happens in town..Then you want to start poo poo with me here I am I don't run away..How many times must I explain things?

 

 COMMENT 366317 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 04:58 PM

@188 - UH here. You are right. That part of the story was supposed to indicate to readers that low winds helped firefighting efforts, but that the low humidity and steep, muddy, sandy conditions of a hillside dotted with large patches of poison oak made things more difficult for the firefighters. Thanks for pointing out my oversight. I was writing the story at 8:45, having been at the fire and forgone my dinner until the story was posted. Mea culpa. Hopefully this will clear up the confusion for any other readers who were wondering just what we meant.

 

 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 06:19 PM

I agree with Flicka - the first picture is outstanding.

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-22 06:29 PM

UH Feel free to drop off all missed dinners here.

 

48% of comments on this page were made by Edhat Community Members.

 

 

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