Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary title=
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary
42 Comments
Reads 9237

By Robert Bernstein

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the Painted Cave Fire which officially burned from June 27, 1990 to July 2, 1990.

Here are my photos from that horrific fire that I have never shared before.

At the time, it was the most destructive fire in California history, with 641 structures destroyed. 4,900 acres were burned.  Andrea Lang Gurka, age 37, died while fleeing the flames along San Marcos Pass Road.

It was an exceptionally hot day. Records indicate the high temperature was 109 degrees. The call went out for a brush fire at 6:02 PM and the first fire engine arrived just minutes later. Firefighters were still finishing up fighting another fire at that time.

This was the scene from near my apartment off Phelps Road in Goleta where Girsh Park is today:

It looked a bit scary, but under normal circumstances it looked manageable. Most of the time the prevailing winds would be uphill on the mountain face. Which would take the fire away from the major populated areas. But the extreme heat and powerful down-slope winds made this anything but normal.

The smoke was soon billowing high in the air over our neighborhood

And flames could be seen sweeping down the mountain

In just two hours the flames had come all the way down to the freeway and jumped over the freeway as if it was not even there. It was not that the fire was so intense. It was more a matter of the winds blowing embers at high speed over vast distances.

As night fell, people gathered to watch from our area of Goleta.
Many of us did not realize that San Marcos Pass was almost directly above us. Including the KEYT reporters, who at one point reported that the fire was coming into our neighborhood. Fortunately for us they were wrong. The fire came down in the area near 154 and Highway 101.Fire fighting planes flew over our heads on the way to the fire. At this time the fire fighting air base was here at the Santa Barbara airport. That meant they were on it quickly, but they were no match for the fierce winds and heat.

Our company, Digital Instruments, had been in an old brick bank records building near the corner of Hollister and Modoc Road. We had moved out to the area near Hollister and Storke not long before the Painted Cave Fire. It was sad to see that entire neighborhood around where we had been almost completely destroyed. I rode my bicycle over to that neighborhood to survey the damage.

The iconic Santa Barbara restaurant "The Philadelphia House" was in total ruins and never came back.

The fact that a tile company burned showed how complete the destruction had been.

Interestingly, our old building was not damaged.

I climbed a nearby hill by the railroad tracks to get broader views of that neighborhood.

And a view of the total destruction looking back up toward the mountains

Later, I went for a ride with my co-worker friend Peter Maivald up San Marcos Pass Road and we got this sweeping view of the total destruction below

Our illustrious employer Virgil Elings owned a house on Via Clarice in the middle of that area of total destruction. His one house was an island that was spared. He had a small orchard on his property that had an automatic watering system.

He stayed on the property as long as possible, hosing down his roof. Then he turned on that watering system and fled when there was no other choice. Those actions saved his home. Again, it showed that in this case the fire was big, but mostly it was spread by embers. Keeping things watered was enough to keep the embers from taking hold.

Fire fighters will always tell people to get out and not risk getting caught in the fire, but sometimes it does pay to stay awhile and fight the fire. It is a big risk, though, no doubt about it.

Fire investigators quickly determined that it was a case of arson and found the point of origin near the intersection of Highway 154 and Painted Cave Road. But arson fires are very difficult to investigate because much evidence is destroyed in the fire. The case soon went cold. But about five years later Peggy Finley told her minister that her former boyfriend Leonard Ross had admitted to starting the fire.

Ross told her he lit the fire to burn out his neighbor Michael Linthicum as a result of an ongoing feud between them. Linthicum's house in fact was one of the first homes destroyed in the fire. Ross said he did not realize it would get out of control.

But there was never enough evidence to prosecute Ross criminally. However, in 2000 he was successfully prosecuted in a civil case and ordered to pay $2.75 million in damages. Ross earned very little money in a craft business and his own property was so remote it was of little value. There was little chance of paying much of those damages.

When the Painted Cave fire happened it was so extraordinarily huge and destructive it was hard to imagine anything worse coming later to our region.

But the December 2017 Thomas Fire was almost 60 times bigger in terms of acres destroyed and almost twice as destructive in terms of structures. While the Thomas fire killed two people directly, another 21 deaths resulted in the Montecito mudflow which was a result of the fire.

Record fires have been coming ever more often in recent years in terms of area and structures destroyed. The worst to date being the November 2018 Camp Fire which destroyed the entire town of Paradise. It destroyed 18,804 structures and killed 86 people.

Humans have created a perfect storm of destruction by altering the climate and by building ever more into previously natural areas.

Let us remember the terrible loss and tragedy of the Painted Cave Fire on this 30th anniversary. And let us also redouble our efforts to stop the forces that are leading to ever more of these tragedies.

Login to add Comments

42 Comments

Toggle Comments (Show)
PitMix Jun 29, 2020 11:07 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

This fire and also the SB earthquake at the end of June. Is there something like the Ides of March for this period?

cthielst Jun 28, 2020 03:17 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

The view from the hill off Hollister toward Modoc is ours. I’ll never forget my tennis shoe soles melting from the heat of the ash, one and two weeks later. Nor will I forget the two teens walking down our driveway with metal picture frames my father-in-law had made... or the unseen who stole what little was left from the total destruction of another’s property.

surfbum Jun 28, 2020 10:50 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

We owned property adjacent to Linthicum, the target of Lennie Ross's match. I was out of town when I got news of the fire and the probable origin. I immediately had a sinking gut feeling which years later made sense when the case against Ross was revealed. Everyone on Old San Marcos Rd. who knew or had dealings with the target concurred. However, at the time of the fire, there could have been nearly a dozen suspects on the short list due to his bullying, litigious approach to being a neighbor. Not learning his lesson, he continued suing people with borderlinel frivolous lawsuits after the fire. Ironically, he was soundly defeated by the SAME judge who presided in the Lennie Ross arson case years earlier.

surfbum Jun 28, 2020 08:53 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

SBROBERT, some of this backstory is contained in criminal court testimony of Lennie Ross. He just snapped, but that wasn't a surprise as many residents of the 2000 block of OSM were waiting for a shoe to drop as Mr. Linthicum asserted himself aggressively on property line and easement issues. While the criminal court judge had little sympathy for Ross, at the same time she, like you, must have realized what triggers an individual to engage in such a horrific form of vendetta. This would have been ripe material for a Dickens novel.

sbrobert Jun 28, 2020 08:38 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

SURFBUM thank you very much for explaining the story of Linthicum. I never knew this part of the story and it is a very important part of the story. It is a terrible tragedy in so many ways. But from what you say he was almost as much of the cause as the arsonist. People can only be pushed so far before they strike back in some way. Too bad that the strike back harmed so many innocent people.

Eggs Ackley Jun 28, 2020 08:48 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I worked for the county at the time and saw the dump fire soon after it started. Appeared to be of no consequence because it was in material on the huge concrete pad and the giant loaders were on it. Came back to the yard at quitting time3:30 and it was nearly out. Went to East beach at foot of Milpas and rigged my sailboard on the end of the lawn. It was ripping offshore and a great day to get some speed runs. From the outside, at Marina 4, one of the most fabulous views of SB, I looked up and saw a new fresh column of smoke and thought the dump fire had re-flared. Ten minutes later it was evident that something ominous was occurring. Left the water and laid my gear on the lawn. By the time I had changed out of my wetsuit and went to de-rig, my sail had ash on it. Sprinted home to San Roque and then over to help a friend evacuate from El Sueño.

tagdes Jun 28, 2020 11:27 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

EggsAckley...where were you "exactly"...I was the Engr. Tech. at the Road Yard that watched the fire begin on the recycling pad while I gassed up my County P/U at 3:20 pm and unloaded our Construction Trailer at the far west end of the Road Yard. I turned on my scanner and watched as 3 County engines sat at the edge of County Dump Rd. rather than going into fast attack mode. That must have been when you left and thought it was nearly out. It flared up and even jumped into the area across Dump Rd. near 4H Hearts and was called in on a second alarm. Our Construction Engr. had me on stand by ready to evacuate our trailers We had to stay until it was contained after 4:30 before I left to leave for our 109 degree 8K race at Night Moves. Due to so many posts re Jun 26 3:26 pm...it should be noted that the El Sueno Rd. post was completely erroneous.

a-1594326430 Jun 27, 2020 07:13 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Thank you Robert! I don't think about it often these days, but this brought me back. What a crazy day and one that I remember in detail. I was working in Goleta and driving to pick up my now wife, she worked at the polo club and was hanging out at my dads' house which was close by. I drove by the fire at the dump and thought wow that's close to everything... I got down to Carp and got delayed by my dad showing my girlfriend old pictures of me. The only time I would be happy about that! An hour or so later we heard about the Painted cave fire on the radio I think. We lived in the canyon off the pass on the same ranch as Andrea. We had no idea the scope of the situation but drove as quickly as possible to get home. We had our dog and cats there and wanted to make sure they were safe. By the time we got there, the pass was closed. We detoured to my moms who lived on Puente. Those photos are what we drove through, except it was dark with smoke and the flames right there on Hollister. We watched palm trees explode from the roof of my moms house and had the cars packed and ready to roll. We were so lucky that we were delayed and not down in that canyon! We lost everything, like a ton of people, but we were in our 20's and didn't have kiddos yet. A lot of people lost their whole lives worth of memories... The bright side for us was that we had a dog and two cats. We thought we had lost them all, but we got a call from a neighbor a week after and they had spotted one of our cats! Literally EVERYTHING in sight was ash or melted, no hiding spots. Yet our super singed and gimpy kitty somehow made it through! She lived another 10 happy years! This was cathartic, thank you.

a-1594326430 Jun 27, 2020 04:50 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I was at Refugio with my 3 young children and a friend from SB. It was 103 degrees on the beach at 2 p.m. I had never experienced such heat. My friend said god forbid, there's a fire today. The wind was really blowing and the water was freezing cold. The only shade was under the palm trees. We all left at about 3 pm. as the kids were whining about the heat.

Basicinfo805 Jun 27, 2020 04:37 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Yes, please describe the guys van. I had the same question. I like to know what to look out for.

SBArts Jun 27, 2020 04:24 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Thank you for the photos. I was a student at Brooks and we had a workshop with National Geographic. Our assignment that day was to meet at the bottom of 154 at 6pm and drive up to the top to photograph the sunset. As we were gathering, the smoke started billowing and fire engines raced past us. I lived in Painted Cave so tried to get home up San Marcos Rd. The flames were whipping over the car so turned around. Ended up helping people evacuate horses from Amapola. Smoke was heavy and panic was high. Tried to get to the Royal Egyptian horse ranch behind Amapola but it was on 154 and sadly 26 horses perished that day and in weeks following from smoke inhalation. The devastation was beyond anything I had ever seen.

SBCactus Jun 27, 2020 03:04 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Thank you for your photos & memories, Robert. Super hot day. We were packing the truck that evening for a long-planned family camping trip to El Cap. Quickly started adding evacuation items - photo albums, computer, etc. We decided to proceed with camping trip the next morning with our usual camping gear & strangely, our family treasures. As horrible as this fire was, the devastation could have easily extended even further into our community that night.

sbrobert Jun 27, 2020 01:08 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

So many lessons to take from this horrific tragedy. Thank you all for the kind words and for sharing your personal memories that are so moving. SOCALMOMMY I did not realize that Ross is still here. Can you give a more detailed description of his van? ========================================================================== I knew a number of people who were in that situation of having just minutes to save some things before losing everything. It was so sad to hear them realize they had grabbed strange things like the toaster but lost all of their family photos. I highly recommend having an off-site storage unit far from your home where you keep copies of irreplaceable photos, computer files and such. I am afraid that these tragedies are becoming ever more likely until we get to the root issues that cause these problems. ========================================================================== Special thanks for your comments so far: SOCALMOMMY, ROGER, CHICO BERKELEY, SHASTA GUY, NIKSINGHLAMBET, SBZZ, RED CREEK, LJM DANCE, AHHHH56 and GNUSMAN

gnusman Jun 27, 2020 12:34 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

What was amazing to me was how it was able to jump the freeway into Hope Ranch; as Robert notes it was because of winds driving the embers. So much for a buffer zone! The Fire dept took me on a tour afterward and I was dumbfounded not ony at the damage, but how the fire did not burn down some homes; they stuck out like islands. As a reporter, I learned so much about wildfires during that time, and did my best to pass on that knowledge to the general public. The Indy also did a great job as an info outlet.

ahhhh56 Jun 27, 2020 12:02 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

That was such a scary night for me and my family. I had attended a meeting in SB, and when I tried to get home to Goleta, every possible route was blocked. I ended up staying with friends on the Mesa. Couldn't get through to my family by phone - lines were constantly busy. It was a very long night. We had recently moved from the Trout Club and later heard that our previous home had been saved by neighbors watering the roof. I found out the next day that my husband and children could see flames and smoke from our house (near Tucker's Grove), and although no evacuation order came, my husband loaded kids, pets, and photos into our VW camper and left, only to discover there was no place to go given all the closed roads. Definitely a night to be remembered (but not fondly).

ljmdance Jun 27, 2020 11:10 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Thank you so very much, Robert, for sharing your photos, memories, and such a well-written article.

aragorn Jun 27, 2020 10:49 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Yup. 1990 I was 34 years old, working out in Goleta at Delco Electronics, and residing on the 300 block of West Sola St. Ash was coming down hard here in the downtown area. I also remember the Coyote Fire as well when I was attending Franklin Elementary School, and of course the 1977 Sycamore Canyon Fire. At that time I was residing on the corner of East Gutierrez and North Voluntario Streets. All 3 fires were bad.

Red Creek Jun 27, 2020 10:29 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

We first heard of the fire from a Fire Captain who told us to get ready to evacuate. It was early afternoon on the Mesa. He said the fire was crossing the 101, heading into Hope Ranch and was heading towards what is now the Douglas Preserve (and our home). The fire died down shortly after burning the homes and palm trees along Modoc. A dear friend lost everything, including two beautiful show horses, on that terrible day. We helped her with the recovery and burials. We will never forget. Thank you Robert for the history and photos.

KellyCrawford Jun 27, 2020 08:26 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Hard to believe it has been thirty years. I will never forget that day. Absolutely awful.

SBZZ Jun 27, 2020 08:26 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Thanks Robert. In terms of acres burned, the Paint Fire barely registers, but for sheer violence and panic, it is at the top of the list for SB County. With severe drought conditions, all-time record heat, and an insane sundowner, it was beyond extreme fire conditions. The Sycamore Fire also occurred during an extreme sundowner and compares to the panic spawned by the Paint Fire, but it was not nearly as hot nor the brush as dry. Still, like the Paint Fire, it burnt many homes in a short amount of time – amazing no one was killed. The Romero Fire (1971) and day 2 of the Jesusita Fire (2009) also come to mind for creating widespread panic. Other fires no doubt were more frightening to others, based on their experiences.

4358ed Jun 27, 2020 08:16 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I remember watching it from the parking lot at work (Goleta). By the time I was driving home (downtown SB) I was one of the last cars 101 southbound the CHP allowed.

a-1594326430 Jun 27, 2020 06:50 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I was sitting in my business and said to my employee "Hey, there's a fire at the dump. Want to drive up Gibralter to Camino Cielo and watch it burn from above?" So that's what we did. But it was pretty much out by then, so we went over and looked in Painted Cave, then came back out onto 154. There were NO cars. we looked both ways, it was like "The Day The Earth Stood Still." Fierce hot and windy, but we still had no idea there was a fire up by us. It was blowing entirely downhill. So we turned down 154, and drove right into the fire. There were burning tumbleweeds flying across the road, the wooden railings were all lit up like birthday candles on a cake. We were both screaming DON'T SLOW DOWN and I'll never forget the look on my dog's face, how you could see a ring of white all around her pupil in her eyes. At Cathedral Oaks we came shooting out of the smoke and the CHP and observers were all lined up in the road, staring up the hill behind us. In just minutes it roared down 154 behind us and jumped the 101. Stupidest thing I'd ever done.

NikSinghLambet Jun 26, 2020 09:56 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I remember that day vividly.. My mother was at PUFF and my Grandma was visiting her. I was with family friends off Hollister on Arboleda Road. Everyone was hosing off roofs and loading up station wagons. We were waiting and waiting for my Grandma to come pick me up. They had decided that if she didn't come by a certain time that they would take me with them wherever they decided to evacuate to. I think at the end they decided to stay because the fire had been stopped at Hollister and they were a few blocks below Hollister. Finally my Grandma arrived somehow by the grace of God. I remember us having to drive all around trying to figure out where to go to go home close to the mission. We were driving around for hours it seemed and we finally made it to Earl Warren show grounds. We got to state street from there and drove home. A couple days later a friend of my Grandpa's took me and him to see the damage along San Marcos Pass and the surrounding areas. The church I attended on San Antonio Creek Road was spared but everything around the church burnt to the ground.

a-1594326430 Jun 26, 2020 08:37 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Yes, people were pretty horrified when the fire jumped the 101. When you drive past, right there at Modoc and State, you can look at the palms on the north side of State and still see some black on those trees. ***########*** I had a friend who owned horses. Up near San Antonio Creek Rd. is where her horses were boarded. (I don't know the exact location.) This friend got out her horse trailer at the first whiff of smoke and said she was running around in her muumuu (she had left her house in that much of a hurry to get to her horses), yelling at people to get their trailers set up and get their horses the hell out of there.. She said people were just standing there, staring at her. Guess they thought she was nuts. Not sure how many horses died because owners weren't able to trailer them and get them out. The fire moved so fast . . .

a-1594326430 Jun 27, 2020 12:21 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Many horses died, including those of my neighbor. It was a sight I will never be able to forget. But all the horses in a pasture on the other end of my street survived. It was a miracle. To see those horses still standing in the middle of the devastation was the only thing that kept us all together. We lost everything in that fire. I was caught in the middle of it. As others have said everyone thought it was just the dump fire flaring up again. It only took about 10 minutes to realize this was not the dump fire and we were all running for our lives. The was no warning, no firefighters, no help at all. They could not get there. It was an inferno and the gridlocked traffic prevented any engines from accessing our area. It took a mere 45 minutes for that fire to travel from Ignition point to the 101. There has never been a more destructive fire in Santa County. It is a miracle more didn’t die. I feel for the family of Andrea who perished. It is still infuriating that arsonists never got what he deserved.

Shasta Guy Jun 26, 2020 05:01 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Thanks for the photos Robert. I left my office between 5:00-6:00 in Goleta and immediately felt the 90F breeze hit my face, and I thought to myself what a nice Northern California summer day. HoWeber when I looked at the ridge I saw a horizontal smoke plume coming off of San Marcos Pass. I thought to myself, this is a bad day to have a controlled burn, who would ever do that? As I made my way on 101 to SB the smoke plume began to blow over town. I made it before the fire jumped 101. There are still a few burned snags still visible from 101 as you approach the Page center. That was a scary time. No internet just TV news and radio for updates.

a-1594326430 Jun 26, 2020 04:57 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Got my parents' dogs out just before their house burned. totally crazy- no cell phones back then. Had to stand in line for the pay phone at the vons on turnpike. Something that bothered me then and still does, is when local radio stations continue with music when there is a disaster occurring. It seems with fires since- gap, tea, Jesusita, Thomas, holiday, the winds die down durning the day and people become complacent. Then the evening winds pick up and it's a sh*t show. Never let your guard down!

a-1594326430 Jun 26, 2020 03:26 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Many people either never knew or have forgot that the first smoke seen was because some old tires had caught fire on El Sueño Rd, at what was then "the dump." So . . . due to that smaller fire, there was a real lag time in fighting the fire that Ross had set. People thought it was just smoke from the tires they were seeing and not some blazing fire located at Painted Cave which would soon become an out of control conflagration.

tagdes Jun 26, 2020 06:21 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

That fire was at the recycling yard at El Dumpo as we called it at the Co. Road Yard, not at El Sueno. I was there the whole time while looking for keys to the El Sueno gate at Cathedral Oaks along with the Battalion Chief. We went ahead and cut the locks as that fire was still in danger of El Sueno.

a-1594326430 Jun 26, 2020 03:41 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I actually had heard that, and because of the dump fire, I decided to use surface streets to go home from the Mesa to Goleta, figuring that the 101 would be packed. Then, as I drove those side streets, I saw the unforgettable sight that was Painted Cave.

Roger Jun 26, 2020 02:43 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I was on the corner of Calle Real and 154 when that fire came down the mountain I thought it was the 2nd coming of Christ and got out of my buddies truck got on my knees and started praying he thought I was nuts...It was a Fire Storm right in front of us we saw it jump the freeway. We rescued a friend from his apartment near Modoc and Los Positas I will never forget that day.

Roger Jun 27, 2020 07:50 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I took in a homeless guy cause his camp got smoked out I knew him from AA though...I thought for the longest time that the dump fire started the Painted Cave fire because I heard on the scanner that there was large pieces of card board floating over the city on fire from the dump fire and Sundowner winds one of those pieces of card board floated down next to Fess Parkers resort on Cabrillo at the tracks and started a fire in the brush...I also knew a guy that was trying to rescue horses near Tuckers Grove and he was critically injured in the fire Joe Foster I haven't seen him in years he might not be around anymore..I worked at the Sand Paper Lodge it was my day off I found out there were trying to get ahold of me all day to come in and work, glad I missed those calls...After that alot of the motels either had residents who lost their homes or workers that had come to Santa Barbara to get us up and running again. Thanks, Robert for the article and pictures...

Shasta Guy Jun 26, 2020 10:28 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Incredible story Roger. I slept at a friend’s house downtown because I didn’t feel it was safe to go back to my apartment.

chico berkeley Jun 26, 2020 01:20 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Wow- What a day that was.We were contractors on the (at the time) new Social Services building between Turnpike and El Sueno.Standing in the parking lot talking with R.P. Richards guys after doing calibration of the building Control system.I turned on my Digital Thermometer and was amazed that it was 106.7 degrees in the parking lot at 3:30,said something to the guys about a bad day for a fire(as a joke) and we went home.Messed around till 6PM and turned on the TV and there was KEYT 3 with cameras right where we had talked in the parking lot a couple hours earlier. I have never forgotten the day, or how it was started and that no one was really never prosecuted for starting it.

SoCalMommy Jun 26, 2020 01:15 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

Heartbreaking photos. I remember this day like it just happened. I was in third grade. One of my best friends lost her home; they had seconds to flee and took nothing with them. My mom took me to the toy store and we picked out several toys to take to my friend, as she had lost everything but the clothes she was wearing. Our landlords' home was narrowly spared, and they had to turn their horses loose to run for their lives, as there was no time to trailer them. Ross still hangs around town, usually down on the beach in his very unusual van. You can't miss him. To think that someone could harbor such hatred, go to such lengths, just to spite another human is beyond comprehension.

ljmdance Jun 27, 2020 11:03 AM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

The van with all the stuff glued on it?? Or maybe now it's red background, multicolored... he rides a bike along the bike path often, long hair & beard?! He's always so friendly. I'm stunned. My house is in the burn path... Strange emotions.

a-1594326430 Jun 26, 2020 12:58 PM
Painted Cave Fire 30th Anniversary

I remember sitting at the corner of Modoc and Hollister, waiting to turn left onto Hollister, probably around 5pm that day. I will never forget the sight of the smoke coming down the mountain, so fast that it looked like water coming out of a fire hose. I was one of the last vehicles to go through that intersection before it was closed. My husband and I got married about 10 days later, and on our honeymoon in Canada, when we told people we were from Santa Barbara, they all wanted to talk about the fire.

Please Login or Register to comment on this.