We live in an area where there is always a concern for fire danger but now that its officially High Fire Season there is an even more urgent need to be fire ready. Please be sure you are signed up for alerts from Santa Barbara County (https://readysbc.org/) and the City of Goleta (https://tinyurl.com/GoletaEmergency).
Just in May our area had three fires that had the potential to be disastrous. The La Patera Fire broke out on May 8, the Tajiguas Landfill Fire on May 12, and the Glen Fire on May 14. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our amazing firefighters whose swift actions quickly stopped the forward progress of the fires and kept our community safe. Aiding in its efforts was the County’s new, state of the art FireHawk helicopter. This helicopter has the capacity to carry 1,000 gallons of water — three times the amount of water held by the other helicopters in the County’s fleet. Additionally, the FireHawk is able to stay in the air for extended periods of time.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department (SBCFD) along with allied agencies held a press conference on May 20 to announce the official beginning of High Fire Season. During this time, all burn permits issued for residential burning and hazard reduction will be suspended. In addition, the SBCFD will be increasing the number of resources (e.g., engines, dozers, crews, helicopters, etc.) responding to reported vegetation fires.
According SBCFD, the 2021/22 rainy season yielded 65% of our normal rainfall which has resulted in significantly drier fuels. Combined with dry seasonal grasses for this time of year, this poses a significant risk for ignition and growth of a vegetation fire.
SBCFD reminds the public to maintain vegetation clearance around structures, review and be familiar with your “Ready! Set! Go!” wildfire action plan and be extra cautious and aware when traveling or staying in the wildland areas of the county.
The SBCFD has begun conducting defensible space inspections. A minimum of 100 feet of defensible space is required around your home in Santa Barbara County. Engine companies will perform inspections and provide homeowners with educational material on how to comply. With the year-round threat of wildfire, the defensible space requirement is enforced at all times in Santa Barbara County. Non-compliant homeowners are subject to be cited.
The SBCFD reminds people that defensible space is the area around a structure, free of flammable plants and objects, that creates a zone in which firefighters can operate safely in order to help protect a home during a wildfire. This space is wide enough to prevent direct flame impingement and reduce the amount of radiant heat reaching the structure. The defensible space for each structure varies and depends on the type of vegetation and topography. Maintaining this defensible space is critical.
Maintaining defensible space is critical in stopping a wildfire from destroying your home. Defensible space is part of every homeowner’s responsibility.
Learn more at SBCFire.com.
Pictured: FireHawk helicopter courtesy of Mike Eliason