Loma Fire 100% Contained

Update by Santa Barbara City Fire Department
5:00 p.m., May 24, 2021

The Loma Fire started Thursday evening at approximately 8:55 pm, and required all on-duty Santa Barbara City Firefighters as well as assistance from our local operational area mutual aid partners.

The fire managed to damage two structures, but fortunately, no injuries were reported. Santa Barbara Police Department arrested an arson suspect, during the incident Thursday night. Victor Angel Hernandez, age 23 and is being held on five counts of arson and narcotics charges. The bail has been set at two million dollars.

The Loma Fire has been declared 100% contained and firefighters will continue to patrol the area through Tuesday evening.

 Loma Alta Drive will likely remain closed to vehicle traffic tentatively until Monday, May 31st at 8 am. If on foot or bicycle, please use extreme caution in the area as rolling debris and rocks continue to fall onto the roadway which present a hazard.  Santa Barbara City Streets engineers are developing a plan to mitigate the hazards from the falling hillside and open the roadway when it is safe to do so.

Update by Santa Barbara City Fire Department
3:00 p.m., May 23, 2021

The Loma Fire is at 95% containment with crews tentatively remaining on the incident until Monday evening. Loma Alta Drive will remain closed through Monday due to rolling debris onto the roadway. City Streets Department will be on Loma Alta Drive with personnel and equipment Monday to assess the roadway and remove debris.
Thursday May 20, 2021 at approximately 8:55 pm, the Santa Barbara Police Department Combined Communications Center received numerous 911 calls reporting a large vegetation fire on the hillside above the 600 Block of West Ortega Street. The first arriving Battalion Chief named the incident the Loma Fire, because the best access to the fire was off of Loma Alta Drive. The hillside had a large vegetation fire racing uphill, pushed by winds in excess of 50 miles per hour. Firefighters were on scene within minutes and began aggressively fighting the fire by deploying hoses on the hillside and between threatened structures.
Structures were immediately threatened at the top and adjacent to, the hillside commonly referred to as TV Hill. Firefighters were forced to deal with an extremely steep hillside which was difficult to climb while fighting the flames.  Twenty-two operational area fire engines were on scene helping combat the fire. Resources assisting were from Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Montecito Fire Protection District, Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District, and Ventura County Fire Protection District. Wildland firefighting hand crews from Santa Barbara County and one from Cal Fire Camarillo Camp were also used in the firefighting efforts. Every on duty City fire crew was on scene of the incident including Truck 71. Additional Firefighters were called back to duty to staff reserve fire engines for City coverage for other emergencies. Outside agencies also assisted answering emergency calls unrelated to the Loma Incident.
The success of this large scale incident was a direct result of the mutual aid system and all of the outside agency response. California is known as the leader around the Country for the State’s mutual aid system. When resources are needed they are sent immediately. No injuries were reported during the incident.
Santa Barbara has had a several suspicious vegetation fires around the City. The Santa Barbara Police and Fire Departments have had a joint investigation ongoing. Thursday night during the fire an arson suspect was taken into custody. The suspect is Victor Angel Hernandez, age 23. He is being held on five counts of arson. He is also being held on narcotics charges, including possession. The bail has been set at two million dollars.  
Hernandez was a person of interest in several fire related incidents recently and was detained when he was seen returning to the Loma Alta hillside. 
The Santa Barbara Fire Department would like to remind all residents to be prepared for wildfire. Follow the Ready, Set, Go plan.

  • Ready; create and maintain defensible space around your home.
  • Set; prepare your family & home ahead of time for the possibility of having to evacuate. Know what to take and where to go.
  • Go; when wildfire strikes, go early for your safety. Take what you have prepared including medications, pets, all family members and leave.

Update by Santa Barbara City Fire Department
10:00 a.m., May 23, 2021

Current containment @ 95%… Crews expected to remain on scene continuing mop up operations until Monday morning when 100% containment is expected. Drone footage provided Santa Barbara City Fire Department – giving in an interesting perspective of the burn scar. Despite the steep incline, we are grateful to have avoided any significant injuries throughout the incident.

Loma Alta will remain closed through Monday due to rolling debris and Fire department equipment on the roadway. We will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.

Update by edhat staff
11:00 a.m., May 21, 2021

Santa Barbara Police have arrested a 23-year-old man for arson relating to the Loma Alta Fire. Read the full article here.

The fire is now 70% contained and is estimated to be 7-acres in size. 

Loma Alta Drive will be closed from West Canon Perdido Street to Coronel Street for the remainder of the day and possibly until Saturday. 

Update by edhat staff
7:00 a.m., May 21, 2021

Residents near TV Hill were able to return to their homes early Friday morning as the forward progress of a rapid brush fire was halted.

Evacuations were lifted around 12:30 a.m. and a little over an hour later the Santa Barbara Fire Department declared the Loma Fire 50% contained with approximately 10 acres burned. 

One house and a unit were damaged but no injuries have been reported.

Firefighters remained active throughout the night extinguishing all possible regiment points to ensure no brim leaves the containment line, and mop up continues throughout Friday.

Loma High Road will remain closed to traffic, proceed with caution as emergency services are still in the area. 

The official cause is under investigation.


#Loma Fire- UPDATE- As daylight begins, FF’s continue to mop up hot spots and secure containment. Loma IC reports with GPS mapping, revised acreage has been revised to under 10 acres. Two homes were damaged, none destroyed. No injuries reported. Cause under investigation. pic.twitter.com/ldIJSfdkWb

— SBCFireInfo (@EliasonMike) May 21, 2021



#Loma Fire- UPDATE- As daylight begins, FF’s continue to mop up hot spots and secure containment. Loma IC reports with GPS mapping, revised acreage has been revised to under 10 acres. Two homes were damaged, none destroyed. No injuries reported. Cause under investigation. pic.twitter.com/DvxzRrM1jr

— SBCFireInfo (@EliasonMike) May 21, 2021


Reported by edhat staff
10:45 p.m., May 20, 2021

Evacuations are issued for residents near Loma Alta and Miramonte Drive due to a rapidly spreading brush fire.

Evacuation orders have been issued for the following areas:

  • 900 Block Miramonte Dr to Weldon Rd, 
  • Isleta Ave, 
  • Arroyo Ave, 
  • Weldon Rd, 
  • Loma Alta Dr. from San Andres to Weldon Rd. 

The fire broke out just before 9:00 p.m. Thursday where W. Ortega Street dead-ends below Loma Alta. The fire spread up the hill towards Miramonte Drive where KEYT television station is, also known as TV Hill.

The fire has quickly grown to over 20 acres with numerous home and commercial buildings threatened. 

Multiple fire agencies are on the scene battling the blaze.

This is a developing story.


#Loma Fire – Santa Barbara City Incident- SBC and other agencies working vegetation fire. Loma IC reporting 20 acres with rapid rate of spread. Multiple commercial and homes threatened. Evacuations ordered for Loma Alta Dr & Miramonte Drive. C/T 8:55 pic.twitter.com/bkUcgWDsck

— SBCFireInfo (@EliasonMike) May 21, 2021



#Loma Fire – SB County FF stopping fire that spread to large home off Via del Cielo in Santa Barbara. Fire still at 0% containment and evacuation orders still in place. Please stay out of area. pic.twitter.com/gU8ExRntp2

— SBCFireInfo (@EliasonMike) May 21, 2021


Reported by Edhat Scanner Reporters

Large brush fire in the 600 block of West Ortega heading up TV Hill.

Photos by Josh Blair

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


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  1. Camping in the city is illegal. The reason we have codes is for health and safety reasons.
    Thanks to Governors Brown and Newsom prisoners were released to the community with out provisions made for housing and jobs. These homeless encampments are the result of the feel good policies by these two governors.
    In fact, Newsom is planning on releasing another 76,000 prisoners. Plan on seeing even more encampments and feces and litter and thief and fires.

  2. Bumble, okay, let’s be sure that prisoners serve their entire terms, no exceptions. And then what?
    You want to keep people in prison forever because they might become homeless and burn down SB? Sounds great, unfortunately he law doesn’t allow for that.
    So then what? What’s your answer? Everyone hates homelessness but no one wants to actually do anything about it. What do you propose?

  3. SACJON, remember, my “Mad Max camp” idea is strictly reserved for the urban travelers, gutter punks, junkies and tweakers that DON’T want to be rehabilitated. The average homeless person that CAN be helped… not so much.
    But, I am flattered that you keep bringing my plan into the conversation! Gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling my friend! I owe you a beer!

  4. SACJON, now we BOTH know that my “Mad Max camp” idea is strictly reserved for the urban travelers, gutter punks and tweakers/junkies that DON’T want to change their ways. As for the average “homeless” people… HELP THEM!
    But man, I’m beyond flattered that you keep throwing my idea into the conversation, gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling! I owe you a beer!

  5. When will we ever learn???
    I’ve lived in the Santa Barbara area since 1963, and have witnessed many brush fires, some gigantic.
    To have a conflagration, you need two things: fuel and fire source. Eliminate one, and you won’t have a conflagration.
    We can’t do much about undiscovered arsonists until they act. We certainly can do something about fuel. Especially fuel next to structures, i.e. defensible space.
    When property owners have not proactively created defensible space, a wildfire on a steep slope, like the Loma fire, homes will be damaged or destroyed.
    KEYT news carried video of the fire burning right up to the wood fence surrounding their satellite dishes and igniting that fence. Luckily, the fire department was there to douse it with water.
    We need ordinances with stiff fines forcing property owners in urban areas to create and maintain defensible space.

  6. SBSAND – The comment by A-162 @ 12:05 was exactly about the fire and its likely cause. Included, to add gas to the fire (no pun intended) was the failure of leadership in our city. I agree, competent leadership could have helped solve/minimize one problem which in turn may have prevented another relative to this issue. The “TV hill” area is not a public camping site. These people are camping in a dense and dry fire hazard area and should be cleared out now. People are prevented fro camping in the forest during a hazardous time, why is TV hill exempt. The new Fire Chief should push hard against City Hall to clear this area before it goes up in flames and people are killed. A good time to find out if he will fight to protect the people as he swore to do or remain silent to protect his job. Let City Hall worry about where these people should go.

  7. If not now then when? The people are fed up. We are at a breaking point with the homeless problem. This Fire (like the 30 + fires in the last few months) are not acceptable and not normal. What’s next, do we need homes to burn down, people to die, a murder on State street? What is it going to take for action? We, the citizens of this city need to stand up and speak up. No more coddling, no more “feel good” services. No more free lunches in the park. No more accepting out of town bums. No more camps. No more beggars on freeway offramps. No more parks being taken over. No more mentally ill individuals screaming in the streets. No more harassments of our citizens, businesses, and visitors. No more crapping and urinating on the streets. No more prostitution and drug dealing under the overpasses. No more trash and debris in our parks, sidewalks, freeways. No more abuse of our healthcare providers. No more. I understand there are no simple solutions to a complex problem. But we all have to agree we can no longer just accept this. This has become a full blown crisis. There needs to be action by the city and now. Pass sit/lie ordinances all over the city. If not in place in place already, make camping illegal within city limits (including railroad and freeway property) and ENFORCE IT!

  8. MAKE NO MISTAKE the lack of action, enforcement and concern over the fires erupting out of homeless encampments in the last few months is the most pressing issue facing our city. Far more important than a park’s mural, a colored bike lane or the 100’s of other non-essential issues the City and its employees spend their time (our money) focused upon. Their negligence and dereliction of their sworn duty to protect the public, is going to cause the city to burn to the ground. We will see lives lost and billions in property damage all fall on the feet of the City of Santa Barbara and its failed leadership. We have some of the highest paid public employees in the state and yet our city is teetering on the edge of financial ruin and is literally, falling apart. The people who pay to keep this city alive are being ignored while the interests of both the poor and the hapless are considered more valuable. This isnt about what color your party sign is, its about allowing incompetence and complacency to thrive when the very lifeblood of our town is being threatened. Enough is enough. Its time to take back our city from the likes of hacks like Murillo and Casey. These people ARE the problem.

  9. No jokes, no sarcasm, no kidding here… THIS IS HORRIBLE! All I can hope is that this disaster opens eyes, not just those of public officials in the city and county, but the general public as well. Policies need to change and that change needs to happen in a quick manner!
    Those folks fighting that fire, if you get a chance, any chance, shake their hands and thank them for the work they do. We ALL owe them a debt of gratitude.

  10. Shushing people is a passive aggressive way of dealing with problems that don’t fit a narrative.
    One of the people here wrote a post on this thread about a sibling.
    Its makes me wonder how hard it has been for the homeless , mentally ill person and the familiy. I befriended an older homeless man who used to sit downtown and gave him a few bucks here. One day I saw him and his face was badly beaten, he had an old dirty shirt, huge pair of pants, barefoot. His sister rolled into town to help her brother. She found him, fed him, put him in a motel, took him to the doctor and got him new clothes. He’d told her he did not want new clothes but she got him new jeans, shoes, socks, sweatshirt. The young criminal homeless had beaten him and stolen his clothes. He’d offered the clothes up, but they beat him anyway because their rule was that if you got something new, you were to come to them immediately and give it to them as tax. So they made an example out of his face.
    It is a hard world out there with some very hard people. Blessings to your sibling and peace to you.

  11. Agreed Rypert. I truly hope this fire serves as a wake up call that leads to much needed reform. When you shake hands with a firefighter and thank them, also ask them how we can stop this from happening again and make sure their recommendations are implemented.

  12. Infinite gratitude to first responders.
    Council and City Manager — This is literally your fault. People have been telling you this would happen, and your cowardice made it so. This specifically. 100% predicable, and 100% neglect.
    My point isn’t made only to place blame. It’s about us all understanding that it WILL HAPPEN AGAIN if you don’t change your act quickly…. your community (as well as your careers) depend on it.

  13. We have multiple incidents, each of which can potentially blow up like this, every day. The cause is always the same. Again and again.
    I cannot imagine a sane person contending that our unhoused population causing fires is not a super-serious and recurring problem.
    It’s an established fact. What comes next, what we do about it (or don’t), that’s the opinion part…

  14. We have multiple incidents, each of which can potentially blow up like this, every day. The cause is always the same. Again and again.
    I cannot imagine a sane person contending that our unhoused population causing fires is not a super-serious and recurring problem. It’s an established fact.
    What comes next, what we do about it (or don’t), that’s the opinion part…

  15. SACJON, remember, my idea for the “camp” was for the very problem we BOTH agree IS the problem. I thought we got past that.
    So, homeless, arsonist or both? Well, they got a guy, let’s all wait and see what the actual story is, should be told soon.
    I have to somewhat agree to a certain level with your “flase flag” theory, but again, we wait and we see.

  16. CHIP OF SB, this is no time to play a blame game, but it’s a time to see how we can ALL fix the problems. Asking firefighters what can be done is a good start.
    On a good note, that tent city encampment in Isla Vista, in 11 days it will be GONE! Finally, the residents of Isla Vista will no longer have to deal with the crime and filth.
    By the way, the final nail in the coffin, from what I hear, is the fire marshal was inspecting the tent city and pointed out NUMEROUS hazards, basically the place was dangerous. Today starts the countdown.

  17. Dear Santa Barbara citizens: this fire is a direct result of your city’s failed leadership. How many of you have warned about the growing homeless population, the repeated encampment fires? Everyone knew it was going to take just one bad wind to result in a conflagration. A competent leader would see that danger, issue a call to harness every resource to get every person out of those encampments, moved to tents on county land, or a parking lot well away from fire zones that could have been used temporarily. They did NOTHING, throwing their hands up in the air that CDC guidance tied their hands. Fire teams across the county warned about this very thing, and still the city didn’t act.
    See tonight for what it is: an utterly preventable catastrophe. Your city leadership failed you on every front, and left you exposed to serious danger. What’s worse: you elected them. You didn’t ask if candidates were remotely qualified for the job of running the city. The bar should have been raised so much higher far before now. Raise it now. You have witnessed successive utter failures to respond adequately to the State St implosion pre-pandemic, the Thomas disasters, the Pandemic, and now the homeless encampments and fires.
    What do you need to happen before you demand better leadership of your city?

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