Governor Declares State of Emergency for Santa Barbara County

Governor Declares State of Emergency for Santa Barbara County title=
Governor Declares State of Emergency for Santa Barbara County
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(Photo: Mike Eliason/SBCFD)

Update by Santa Barbara County


At 1:30 p.m. December 8, 2017, Santa Barbara County proclaimed a local emergency due to the Thomas Fire that has burned more than 132,000 acres in Ventura County and impacted Santa Barbara County with evacuation orders, hazardous air conditions and periodic power outages.  The proclamation (attached) was executed by the Santa Barbara County Executive Officer; the Board of Supervisors is expected to act formally on the proclamation at its next meeting on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

Proclaiming a local state of emergency is an essential step for local governments dealing with significant incidents. It ensures that all county resources are available for the fire control efforts and supporting activities. Having the proclamation in place also helps facilitate State and Federal reimbursement for emergency response.  

On December 5, 2017, Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency for the County of Ventura for the Thomas Fire.  On December 7, 2017, Governor Brown added the County of Santa Barbara to the State of Emergency for the Thomas Fire. On December 8, 2017, President Trump proclaimed a Presidential Declaration of Emergency for the Counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura for the Thomas Fire.  The Presidential Declaration also covers the Counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego for other fires burning in Southern California.

Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Joan Hartmann, said, “Our top priority is protecting the lives and safety of the public and our first responders.  I am grateful to the firefighters and public safety employees who are responding so effectively to the Thomas Fire and doing their best to prevent damage to homes, businesses and other infrastructure.  This proclamation is an important step our County is taking to ensure we have the maximum level of resources available during this disaster.”

The Thomas Fire started at 6:25 p.m. on December 4, 2017 in the County of Ventura. As of 8 a.m. Friday, December 8, 2017, the incident was at 10 percent containment. The Fire is actively burning within the Santa Ynez River watershed, which is the primary water source for the southern portion of Santa Barbara County. Extensive smoke and ash have created hazardous air quality that led to the closure of most south county schools. Evacuation centers are open and receiving people and animals evacuated from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. 

Source: Santa Barbara County

On December 7, 2017, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County due to the Thomas fire.  In addition, Santa Barbara County was issued a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with the mitigation, management, and control of the Thomas Fire.

The Thomas fire which began on December 4th in Ventura County, has spread to the Santa Barbara County line threatening homes and other structures and forcing the evacuation of residents in Santa Barbara County. 

The Governor’s action by declaring a state of emergency is an essential step when dealing with this significant incident. This action recognizes the magnitude of this emergency and helps facilitate State funding which supports necessary resources and efforts needed to control the Thomas fire and ensure the safety of our County.  The receipt of the FMAG funding allows additional mutual aid support of State and local resources.  Santa Barbara County Officials have worked hard to ensure that we are maximizing our reimbursement opportunities for this incident. 

“Supporting our firefighters and other first responders to protect the public is the County's top priority, as well as preventing damage to structures, infrastructure, our rich agricultural resources, and our critical watersheds,” said Robert Lewin, Director for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency  Management. Both actions help to provide the resources necessary to support efforts of keeping our community safe and demonstrates the partnership we have with the State and Federal government.

The Thomas fire continues to threaten Santa Barbara County. The fire is burning on the north and east side of Highway 150 and is also burning on the west side of Highway 33. The fire has been burning along the 101 freeway to the Santa Barbara county line as well as in the back country west of Ojai.  To date, over 132,000 acres have burned and the fire is 10% contained.

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