Cave Fire Now 100% Contained

Photos: Mike Eliason / SBCFD
Update by edhat staff
8:00 a.m., December 15, 2019

Los Padres National Forest officials announced Saturday the Cave Fire is 100 percent contained. The Cave Fire began November 25 and burned a total of 3,126 acres.

There were no residences damaged or injuries to firefighters.

Los Padres National Forest officials issued a statement thanking local fire cooperators for their support and shared commitment to protecting our communities.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Update by edhat staff

11:00 a.m., December 4, 2019

The recent rainstorms have hampered firefighting efforts of the Cave Fire and the containment remains at 90%.

Officials initially announced they planned to have the Cave Fire 100% contained by Wednesday, December 4, unless rainfall affected their progress. The acreage remains at 3,126 acres.

County Fire Department spokesperson Mike Eliason reports rain has hampered efforts in reaching remote and rugged terrain to complete containment line.  Therefore, full containment will be another week, December 13 or slightly sooner.

In the meantime, Caltrans is working to clear clogged drainage culverts on Highway 154 Wednesday morning following a brief but intense rainfall in the recent burn area.

Motorists are encouraged to use caution and slow down while driving through the area recently charred in the Cave Fire.

Photo: Mike Eliason / SBCFD

Update by edhat staff

7:30 a.m., December 1, 2019

The Cave Fire is now 90% contained with 54 personnel assigned and working the incident. 

Los Padres National Forest Firefighters are working to extinguish stubborn “smokes” in an unburned portion of the Cave Fire with thick brush. Additional smoke might still be visible for a period of time.

Update by edhat staff

10:15 a.m., November 30, 2019

The Cave Fire is 85% contained with full containment expected by Wednesday if rain doesn’t hamper firefighting efforts.

Mike Eliason with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department reports the 85% containment will reach 100% by December 4. If the rain affects the burn area, full containment is scheduled by December 13.

Caltrans hopes to have Highway 154 open by Monday. There are 50 firefighters on the scene continuing to mop up.

Photo: Mike Eliason / SBCFD

Update by edhat staff

8:00 p.m., November 28, 2019
The Cave Fire remains at 3,126 acres and is now 70% containment. Firefighters will remain committed on the scene until complete containment is obtained.

Update by edhat staff

7:00 a.m., November 28, 2019

The Cave Fire is 40% contained at a revised 3,126 acres due to updated GPS and mapping.

Approximately 300 firefighters will stay assigned and committed to the fire to continue to increase containment.

Snow has fallen at the 3,500 foot level on the fire footprint atop E. Camino Cielo early Thanksgiving morning.  A light dusting atop used fire hose & on charred chaparral is a rare sight for the Santa Barbara South Coast, reports Mike Eliason.

The Los Padres National Forest along with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department would like to remind the public, that as containment efforts continue, the public might see light smoke and smoldering materials in the interior portions of the fire perimeter.

“We would like to reassure the community that we are aware of those issues and have approximately 300 firefighters assigned to the Cave Fire to address any issues that may arise,” reports Captain Daniel Bertucelli.



Update by County of Santa Barbara

11:00 a.m., November 27, 2019

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, in consultation with fire agencies and other public safety officials, has announced that Evacuation Orders and Debris Flow Evacuation Warnings are lifted for all areas in Santa Barbara County. Residents are advised to stay alert to their surroundings and changing conditions.

Hwy 154 from Cathedral Oaks Road/Hwy 192 to Painted Cave Road will remain closed other than to residents of Hwy 154.  East Camino Cielo Road from Painted Cave Road to Gibraltar Road is closed due to continued fire rehabilitation work in the area.

The evacuation center at Goleta Valley Community Center will close. For questions concerning animal sheltering, please call (805) 681-4332. 

The Emergency Operations Center and Call Center will close at 1 p.m. today.  Evacuated residents returning home who have a need for wheelchair or other specialized transport should contact their routine paratransit provider.

Photo: Mike Eliason


Update by edhat staff

8:00 a.m., November 27, 2019

Officials report the rain helped firefighting efforts and the evacuations should be lifted on Wednesday.

At 11:30 p.m. Tuesday officials removed evacuation warning for the area North of Foothill Road between Ontare and Gibraltar Road. Santa Barbara County Public Works reported the San Roque and San Antonio basins on Wednesday morning. 

The Cave Fire areas received up to an inch of rain in the past 24 hours which significantly helped firefighters battle the blaze. Mike Eliason with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department reports 20% containment of the fire is expected to grow significantly today. The total acreage is 4,367.

Firefighters will remain on scene to extinguish “stubborn smoke” as resources begin demobilization today. Incident Command is reporting good progress on the fire fight with repopulation plans to be evaluated as all evacuees should be in their homes later today in time for Thanksgiving, reports Eliason.

Rain is still forecasted and the colder overnight storm could actually bring a slight chance of snow near the higher elevation of the fire, if you could believe that.

With small smokes still smoldering below, a rainbow appears above the burn scar near Painted Cave Road Wednesday morning (Photo: Mike Eliason)
Start Date: Nov. 25, 2019
Cause: Unknown
Size: 4,367 acres
Containment: 20%
Personnel: 600
Structures Threatened: 2,410 structures threatened, 0 residential structures burned
Injuries: 0


Mandatory Evacuations

  • Evacuation order boundaries expanded from Ontare Road to Patterson Ave. north of Cathedral Oaks, south of Camino Cielo.

Evacuation Warning

  • West of Hwy 154 to El Sueno, below Cathedral Oaks to Calle Real.
  • Patterson Avenue/Anderson Lane and Ontare Road, between the 3500 and 3300 block of State Street and down through Las Positas Road, and south of East Camino Cielo to the ocean. 

Road Closures

  • Highway 154 from SR-246 to SR-192/Foothill Road
  • Gibraltar Road
  • La Vista Road at Foothill Road
  • Debra Drive at Antone Road
  • Via Chaparral at Cathedral Oaks
  • San Marcos Road at Cathedral Oaks

Power Outages

Parts of southern Santa Barbara County are experiencing power outages due to impacts from the Cave Fire.  This outage is not related to a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). Outages have been reported in unincorporated areas between the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara, along Highway 154 through Mission Canyon, and parts of Summerland and Carpinteria.

The SCE Outage Map can be viewed here.


Goleta Valley Community Center
5679 Hollister Road. Goleta

Animal Sheltering: For Assistance, call Hotline: 805-681-4332

Small Animals:
Goleta Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Rd.
Large Animals:
Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara

Emergency Contact Numbers

  • Emergency Call Center: (833) 688-5551
  • 211 or outside (805) area code, call (800)  400-1572
  • Animal Evacuation Assistance: (805) 681-4332
  • Southern California Edison: 1-800-611-1911

Do NOT call 911 unless there is an emergency

Update by County of Santa Barbara

10:30 p.m., November 26, 2019
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has issued a Debris Flow Evacuation Warning due to a strong storm arriving tonight, Tuesday, November 26, for the area between Patterson Avenue/Anderson Lane and Ontare Road, between the 3500 and 3300 block of State Street and down through Las Positas Road, and south of East Camino Cielo to the ocean. 

Public safety officials have determined that there is a risk for potential debris flows in and below the Cave Fire burn area. National Weather Service has predicted rainfall Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, with isolated thunderstorms that can increase rainfall intensity. Residents are advised to prepare an evacuation kit and a plan to leave. 

If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time, do not wait, leave the area and move outside the Fire Evacuation Order and Debris Flow Evacuation Warning area. If you live or are near creeks and streams, be aware that waterways may experience high flows and can rise quickly. Flooding impacts may be experienced throughout the county, but are a higher risk and may be observed below the Thomas, Sherpa, Alamo and Whittier burn areas.

If a debris flow occurs, and it is unsafe to leave, or you are unable to leave, go to high ground. Stay alert to changing conditions and follow the instructions of public safety officials. The Cave Fire Evacuation Order remains in place. To access the County’s interactive map, go to

The public is encouraged to avoid going out in the storm and to stay off roads. As a precaution, do not walk through flood waters; six inches of moving water may knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 for help.

Do not drive into flooded roadways or around barricades. Water may be deeper than it appears and may hide hazards, such as sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc. Twelve inches of water can float a car or small SUV. For additional information, call the County’s Call Center at (833) 688-5551.


Update by edhat staff

4:00 p.m., November 26, 2019
Rain is anticipated Tuesday evening after midnight and will hopefully aid firefighting efforts. The approaching front will continue erratic gusty north winds in the fire area through tonight with peak gusts of winds up to 40 mph. Humidity is relatively low near 15% and expected to improve later tonight.
Map of Cave Fire footprint (Photo: Mike Eliason)

Update by edhat staff

11:30 a.m., November 26, 2019

A section of mandatory evacuations has been reduced for the Cave Fire that’s now reached 4,262 acres. It’s at 0% containment and there are no reported injuries. One outbuilding has been destroyed but no residences have been affected.

Officials held a press conference at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday and stated the current firefighting conditions are the “toughest in the world” due to low humidity, several extreme wind events, and dry fuel. The fire crossed over Highway 154 in several places and the roadway remains closed.

However, the mandatory evacuations have been reduced from Fairview to Patterson Ave on the western boundary. The evacuation will be lifted by noon and residents are welcome to return home in this area, although some sections are without power as requested by firefighters.

The rest of the evacuations will stay put for some time, said Sheriff Bill Brown. Approximately 5,481 people evacuated on Tuesday with 324 people staying in their home.

Rain is expected to reach Santa Barbara on Tuesday evening and should help diminish the fire, although officials are concerned about it creating hazards for the firefighters and potentially small rockslides on Highway 154. Officials do not feel the amount of rain expected will cause a mudslide.

Evacuation map is not yet updated and has not removed Fairview to Patterson Ave (click here)

Update by edhat staff

8:00 a.m., November 26, 2019

The Cave Fire has reached 4,100 acres and is 0% contained as of Tuesday morning.

There are 600 firefighters on the scene and no reported injuries or structures damaged. The evacuation orders remain the same from Monday evening, according to Mike Eliason of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

At 10:30 p.m. on Monday, Santa Barbara County proclaimed a local emergency. Read the emergency proclamation here.

A press conference will be held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday to discuss ongoing firefighter efforts.

Update by edhat staff

9:30 p.m., November 25, 2019

An evacuation warning has been issued for the areas from Highway 154 to El Sueno and Cathedral Oaks to Calle Real, according to the Sheriff’s Office. An additional Evacuation Warnings is being issued for the area North of Foothill Road and Ontare to Gibraltar Road.

Due to changing conditions of the fire, the Evacuation ORDER is now from Highway 154 to Fairview, and Highway 154 to Ontare, north of Cathedral Oaks Road. The evacuation map can be viewed here.

As of 9:30 p.m., the estimated acres burned is reportedly over 3,100 acres.

Roadways remained closed in the area.

Update by edhat staff

6:58 p.m., November 25, 2019

Mandatory evacuations have been extended to north of Cathedral Oaks between Highway 154 and Patterson Ave.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office just announced the evacuation at 6:55 p.m. Monday. 

The first mandatory evacuation order still stands, from Painted Cave to Camino Cielo and Highway 154 east to Ontare Road. 

A second fire is burning near the Cave Fire has reportedly jumped the Windy Gap. Early reports indicate the fire began around 6:25 p.m. near 1960 N. San Marcos Road. It’s being reported this second fire has reached Highway 154 and jumped the Windy Gap and is burning above the Bridge to Nowhere.

CHP is reporting a large group of cars and bystanders are blocking the roadway for emergency personnel and evacuees. If you do not need to be in the area, stay away.

An evacuation map can be found here.

Shelter Location:
Goleta Valley Community Center
5679 Hollister Road. Goleta

Animal Sheltering: For Assistance, call Hotline: 805-681-4332

Small Animals:
Goleta Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Rd.
Large Animals:
Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara

Update by edhat staff

6:15 p.m., November 25, 2019

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for the Painted Cave community as a 15-acre brush fire, named the Cave Fire, grows.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Los Padres National Forest Fire Department, and Montecito Fire Department are on scene near Painted Cave and E. Camino Cielo. Crews are battling a wind-driven fire that sparked around 4:13 p.m. Monday.

Strong wind is in the forecast tonight and it’s encouraged that residents are vigilant and aware of what is happening. Evacuation orders can quickly change.  

California Highway Patrol have closed Highway 154 at SR-246 and Foothill Road as well as Cathedral Oaks at S San Marcos Rd.

Update by Office of Emergency Management
5:42 p.m., November 25, 2019

Due to the fire in the Panted Cave area, an Evacuation order is issued for the area between Highway 154 and Ontare, and below East Camino Cielo and Foothill road. more information will follow as it becomes available.

Debido al incendio en el área de Painted Cave, se emitio una orden de evacuación para el área entre la Carretera 154 y Ontare, y debajo de la East Camino Cielo y Foothill Rd. Más información se proporcionará cuando esté disponible.

Reported by Roger the Scanner Guy

4:24 p.m., November 25, 2019

Brush fire off Camino De Cielo at Painted Cave. SB County Fire Department sending a full response.

Photos by edhat readers

Cave Fire view from Decker’s Building in Goleta (Photo: Robert Bernstein)

2:43am from Painted Cave (Photos: Lynn)

Cathedral Oaks from Highway 154 (Photos: John Wiley)

Photos by Patti Gutshall

Photos by Christian Puga

Upper State Street by Beverly Cross

View from the Turnpike shopping center

Taken along Calle Real near iHop. Nov. 26th;  12:30 p.m. (By Chuck Cagara)

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


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  1. Thanks, John. I finally got online here.
    WTF w/online evac warnings?! “Due to the fire in the Panted Cave area, an Evacuation order is issued for the area between Highway 154 and Ontare, and below East Camino Cielo and Foothill road.”
    Below Foothill?! Not that I’ve heard. Yes, I’m tense. Yes, I’m ranting. I’m “below Foothill.” Yes I have a go bag & my car is ready. From a message to family: “what kind of frigging sense does THIS make?!! Oookay, “below Foothill” … Holes. Even after Thomas fire & the debris flow. I’ve WORKED fires in this department…”

  2. I was talking to a few friends on Sunday and I mentioned that we were about due for another one of these fires. I was a little surprised, but not completely, that here we are again. One of my friends called to tell me that he could not believe what I had said to them. Wish I could do the same thing when picking numbers at the casino! LOL!

  3. Be warned: Mandatory evacuation expenses may not be deducted on your income taxes according to my CPA. Get pre-authorization from your insurance company especially if you have renter’s insurance. Talking head broadcasters fail to tell listeners why since folks don’t Evacuate: we can’t afford to and no we will not go to a Red Cross shelter that will be instantly closed when choosing to concurrently serving homeless addicts who engage in unlawful behavior.

  4. @GENERALTREE I believe they’re referring to the situation at the SMHS red cross shelter (can’t remember exactly when it was, maybe during the mudslides?). The homeless taking advantage of evac shelters is actually a legitimate problem that should be addressed. Perhaps they could ask for address proof that people live in the evacuation areas?

  5. According to KEYT, there will be more rain in the near future. This is currently on their website://///////////// Winter Weather Advisory issued November 27 at 1:48PM PST until November 28 at 10:00AM PST by NWS San Francisco CA
    .Snow showers will continue on and off into tonight with snow
    levels around to 2500 feet and locally lower during heavier snow
    showers. Hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts with
    Thanksgiving week plans in the mountains above Big Sur should plan
    accordingly for winter- like conditions with snow, wind, and cold
    temperatures. Lighter accumulations are possible in the peaks of
    the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Range.
    * WHAT…Snow. Total snow accumulations 5 to 8 inches with locally
    higher amounts above 4000 ft. Total snow accumulations of 3 to 6
    inches between 3000 ft and 4000 ft. Total snow accumulations of
    1 to 3 inches between 2500 ft and 3000 ft. A dusting down to
    2000 feet is possible overnight tonight before showers taper off.
    * WHERE…Above 2500 ft in the Santa Lucia Mountains and Los
    Padres National Forest in Monterey County.
    * WHEN…Through 10 AM PST Thursday.
    * IMPACTS…Slick, snow-covered roads and hiking trails. Hikers,
    campers, and outdoor enthusiasts with Thanksgiving week plans
    in Santa Lucia Mountains and Los Padres National Forest may
    encounter dangerous winter-like conditions above the snow
    level. Heavier snow showers could produce limited visibilities.
    * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Significant reductions in visibilities
    are possible. Downed trees and power outages possible.

  6. There seem to be some clear violations of the law here but this is small potatoes compared to most of the crimes the DA has to deal with. I believe it is the State Attorney General that has jurisdiction over non-profit criminal activity, so does anyone know if they are looking at this?

  7. Rain will definitely cause a delay in containment. Look at the video of the cutting through the brush to get to logs that are still burning. Now imagine doing that in the rain and mud, it would take a little longer. But go ahead and call people stupid based on ignorance.

  8. Huh? Love what the firefighters did but this is seeming like a money grab. I watched Them flying like crazy to get more drops in before the rain last week. Costs a fortune and the fire was out. Rain totally extinguished it.
    Now they’ve got 50 guys still “mopping up”?? 50guys mopping up. Let’s say they cost $50/hr that’s $2500/hr x 8hrx 7 days extra that’s $140,000 wasted. That doesn’t count the double pay overtime and machinery. Some are needed maybe for the caltrans rail repair but cmon guys! Very heroic fighting the fire but let’s get real. We all pay for all this gravy train stuff.

  9. It literally SNOWED on the fire zone. Then rain. But that has “hampered firefighting efforts.” This is positively crazy. They might as well get back on the Jesusita fire too. Love what they did to put it out, but it’s *out*. Also, fire science? Gimme a break. Aren’t these the guys who did the “controlled burn” in Santa Ynez a week before this When it was blowing 20mph and it got out of control and burned 250 acres? Firefighters log plenty of OT, get crazy big pensions. I still Don’t understand why we need a fire engine to go to the house when someone’s choking or having a heart attack.

  10. A-1575560386 they have to create the fire line and break, otherwise its not “CONTAINED”. containment and “out” are two different things, thats whats CRAZY. the second part….. about was a poor attempt at trolling fireman, which is stupid.

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