Holiday Fire Caused by Electrical Conductors
Holiday Fire (Photo: SBCFD)
Source: Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Holiday Fire Investigation Summary
On Friday, July 6, 2018, at approximately 8:40 PM, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department (SBCFD) responded to a wildland fire at the north end of North Fairview Avenue, in an unincorporated area located north of the City of Goleta, California. The subject fire, identified as the “Holiday Incident” (Holiday Fire), burned approximately 113 acres, damaged 3 single-family dwellings, and destroyed 24 structures, including 10 single-family dwellings.
The Holiday Fire was reported at 8:38:04 PM, at the north end of North Fairview Avenue. Weather conditions at the time the fire was reported were: temperature approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a relative humidity around 12%, with a north wind of approximately 10-20 miles per hour with gusts exceeding 30 miles per hour. Multiple witnesses described the holiday fire to investigators as approaching their location from the north end of North Fairview Avenue.
SBCFD and CAL FIRE investigators examined fire pattern indicators and identified a specific origin area located directly below electrical conductors. The Specific Origin Area was surrounded by tall trees and vegetation with several specimens that exceeded the height of distribution electrical conductors.
Investigation Findings Summary:
Based on the facts, circumstances, and data revealed during the fire investigation, SBCFD determined the ignition source for the Holiday Fire was electrical conductors.
The most probable ignition scenario identified during the investigation was high north winds causing either a tree branch, palm frond, or other vegetative debris to land across both the west and center distribution electrical conductors.
The tree branch, palm frond, or other vegetative debris ignited and/or produced fire brands that were deposited into and ignited a receptive fuel bed located within the Specific Origin Area.
The resulting fire spread south adjacent to North Fairview Avenue in alignment with the prevailing north wind.