Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago title=
Source: Montecito Fire Department
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Source: Montecito Fire Department

On this day 57 years ago, the Coyote Fire started off of Coyote Rd. east of Sycamore Canyon. The fire burned for 10 days before being declared under control. In that time, 67,000 acres burned, 85 homes were damaged or destroyed & one person died as a result of the fire.


Photo: Montecito Fire Department

About half of the burn area was in south-slope mountain drainages at risk of subsequent debris flows. 

The following November, a heavy rainstorm caused severe flooding & debris flows in Cold Spring, Hot Springs, Montecito & San Ysidro creeks.


​Photo: Montecito Fire Department

The 1964 Coyote Fire & Flood is a poignant reminder to prepare for the disaster risks our community could face. To access the "Ready! Set! Go!" wildfire action plan & other fire prevention resources, click here: https://montecitofire.com/fire-prevention


​Photo: Montecito Fire Department
​Photo: Montecito Fire Department
 
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SBCactus Sep 23, 2021 04:58 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

I remember walking home from school in Noleta one of the afternoons of the fire - the sunlight was dimmed by smoke, it was windy, and the air was thick with ash. Frightening! First of way too many major fires in SB in my lifetime.

Chip of SB Sep 23, 2021 12:21 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

I love those old fire trucks, great photos! If history is any lesson here, we will never stop our mountain from burning. Every year that goes by after the last fire results in the build up of more dead and dry brush until another catastrophic fire becomes inevitable. The fact is, fire is an immutable natural feature of our landscape. I think that it’s time to develop a strategy to live with fire instead of our failed approach of universal fire suppression. Rather than waiting for an unplanned fire to burn out of control on the hottest and windiest day of the year, we could implement planned and controlled fires regularly when conditions are favorable. This would clear the dead and dry fuels and make any unplanned fires that ignited during unfavorable conditions much more manageable. In addition, a regimen of planned burning would limit the risk of debris flows by controlling and limiting the burn area within each watershed at any given time. Finally, Santa Barbara desperately needs to construct a new debris basin to control the mission canyon watershed along with making improvements to mission creek. Unless these steps are taken, we will continue to experience catastrophic fires, flooding, and debris flows.

a-1632451357 Sep 23, 2021 07:42 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

Chip - Except none of these fires are natural. Natural fires are so rare here we cannot continue to make the blanket statement of fire being a natural part of our ecosystem. Hundreds of years ago sometimes lightening struck, sometimes debris combusted but that was hundreds of years ago with 30-50 years between events. These fires burned to the ocean and nature started over. We cannot recreate these natural fires of the past by conducting controlled burns. Every major fire in the last hundred years has been human caused. Not only do we cause fires sometimes we hinder the ability to mitigate the damage. Poor community planning, inadequate infrastructure, poor vegetation management, and poor public education regarding fire have all contributed to our demise in the past. Fortunately we have learned much from our past. Advances in fire fighting technology, weather predictions, vegetation management, emergency warning systems and most of all our excellent local firefighters have made our community more resilient. Thanks to organizations such as The Fire Safe Council, Wildland Residents Association, Mountain Ember Team etc our community is educated and prepared. The Cave Fire and Loma fire both caused by arson, did minimal damage . We need to stop people and utility companies from starting fires in the first place. We need to plan for drought and climate changes and the impact they have on all these human caused fires.

SBCactus Sep 23, 2021 04:45 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

I agree on all your points, Chip of SB! We hear talk of these measures after our fires but seems there’s no follow-through. Hopefully, the powers that be will have a renewed interest in implementing these measures - especially after so many local firefighters worked/witnessed the monster Dixie Fire.

Chip of SB Sep 23, 2021 04:35 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

Pit, a vast portion of downtown Santa Barbara is in a location proned to flooding and debris flows. See this paper from UCSB analyzing the risk. https://bren.ucsb.edu/projects/post-fire-sedimentation-and-flood-risk-potential-mission-creek-watershed-santa-barbara Carpinteria is in a similarly vulnerable location and was flooded back in the 60s. Carpinteria built a giant debris basin to prevent it from happening again. It worked! After the thomas fire, the Santa Monica debris basin was filled, but carpinteria was protected from the debris flows. Santa Barbara has been lucky so far, although there was some significant flooding back in 1995. If there is ever a fire in the mission canyon watershed followed by heavy rain, downtown Santa Barbara will be in a lot of trouble.

PitMix Sep 23, 2021 04:02 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

Or we could stop building really expensive homes in areas prone to burning and mudflows? Nahh, that would take away too many of our freedumbs.

SBREADER Sep 23, 2021 08:06 AM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

I was 10. We lived on APS and it was literally around the corner!!!! My Dad was afraid of nothing but I could see he was scared.

a-1632408314 Sep 23, 2021 07:45 AM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

I distinctly remember this fire. Our family was camping at El Cap for part of the time and we could see it. At nine years old it was my first of many experiences, unfortunately, with big fires in SB.

Minibeast Sep 22, 2021 09:53 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

1964 Coyote Fire = Started by a vehicle's faulty exhaust system. Ray Ford's write up, published Oct. 3, 2020 in Noozhawk: https://www.noozhawk.com/article/remembering_the_coyote_fire_20201003 ---------Another and more expressive personal take on 1977 Sycamore Canyon fire authored by Thomas Sanchez: https://classic.esquire.com/article/share/e4b3f98e-001a-4cd7-bf2e-22303110f682

a-1632365382 Sep 22, 2021 07:49 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

Some of my faint earliest memories, also from photos from our front yard, come from this event. The folks had the car ready to go to the beach. This was in tract (rather than "old") San Roque.

tagdes Sep 23, 2021 01:56 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

I guess you're saying in tract for the E'ly County area. Originally San Roque-Rutherford Park was from Ontare to Alamar. It's now San Roque from Ontare to San Roque Rd and East San Roque from there to Miradero Dr. There are actually tracts in East San Roque with the Verde Vista tract in the area with Vernal, Ventura and Valencia. This was all orchards from the Jacquemain ranch and all the custom built homes kept trees in the landscaping. We had lemon, orange and plum and our Valencia Orange still still produces well with over 2 gallons of juice yearly from an over 90 year old tree.

a-1632394876 Sep 23, 2021 04:01 AM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

Tagdes: Parts of Ontare, Grove, Hope, La Cumbre that all had lemon trees in the yards and were built around 1960 on what was lemon orchards. Hope that helps! I contrast that with the houses in between Ontare and Las Positas, around the Stevens Park area. Just an impression from riding my bike as a kid.

tagdes Sep 22, 2021 09:32 PM
Coyote Fire Sparked 57 Years Ago

7:49 would you clarify what that is supposed to mean. Old San Roque is of course east of Alamar.

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