Thank You County Road Crews
By Jessica Tunney
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and honor an overlooked, and sometimes, maligned group in our community. These are truly unsung heroes who clear our pathways and help keep our roads safe. I am talking about the Santa Barbara County Road crew.
During this calm, I would like to sincerely thank Mario and his team. I live in Painted Cave. During the height of Summer, we know the kids are out of school, there’s a vast increase in traffic on our roads, and watching the brush and grass along the roadside get taller, denser, and browner makes us very anxious.
Days before the Whittier Fire started, the County road crew started their annual ‘flailing’ of Old San Marcos Rd. They had completed that, and started on Painted Cave Rd. the day before the fire started. To their credit, they were hesitant to continue during the next week, leery of creating any kind of spark. I thank them for that forethought. With the assurance of a fire engine from the Painted Cave Fire Department, they came up to finish Painted Cave Rd… on a Saturday. Combined with Painted Cave fire fighters weed whipping and the County flailer, the road was finished to E. Camino Cielo by Monday.
Our mountain roads were made a priority. Not only Painted Cave, but E. Camino Cielo, Stagecoach, and Paradise Roads. They would evaluate the weather hourly, and if they didn’t have a fire engine to shadow them, in the event of a spark, they would call it a day, and move on to a safer project.
One neighbor I spoke with marveled at the coincidence of seeing not one, but two different people pulled over to the side of the road, talking on cell phones, where the day before had been 10” tall dry grass. Catalytic converters are a menace in dry grass.
For those of you looking for answers for the Whittier Fire, I can only offer this; for the first 24 hours, chp listed the cause as a vehicle that had pulled over to the side of the road, which ignited the grass on fire.
Thank you, thank you, thank you County Roads for making the mountain communities a priority, and making it safer for all those who journey up here.