Santa Barbara County does not go “in” or “out” of Fire Season. Rather, our county faces a year round fire threat. Therefore, being aware of this issue can ensure that you and your family will know how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a fire.
“The most important three minutes you spend this year may be signing up for alerts via the Santa Barbara County Aware and Prepare website. If we can’t find you, we can’t notify you and your families about fires or other emergencies in your area. Please sign up for alerts, and have an escape plan. Ready, Set, Go!” -Fire Chief Eric Peterson.
Wildfires often begin unnoticed. A wildfire can be originated by natural causes, such as lightning, or human activities, including machinery sparks or cigarette butts. Once started, a wildfire can spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, or homes. Wildfires can move at a speed of 6+ MPH in forests and up to 14 MPH in grassland. These fires can shift directions as well as jump roads and rivers. Sometimes embers can fly far from the original flames and create new fires.
*Aside from the obvious fear of burns and destruction that fires can incite, there are still several additional side effects of a fire to be aware of. Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Aside from inhaling super-hot air, Fire produces poisonous gases that can make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.
*Information provided by FEMA's Ready Program. For more information, check out http://www.ready.gov/fires
Santa Barbara County’s history of major damage fires
- Sycamore Canyon Fire (1977) - 200+ housing units destroyed
- Painted Cave Fire (1990) - 648+ housing units destroyed
- The Gap Fire (2008) - lasted over a month
- The Gap Fire (2008)
- The Tea Fire (2008)
- The Jesusita Fire (2009)
What should you do?
By completing and practicing an escape plan from your home, office, and neighborhood, you will be ready to react should a fire become a threat. In addition, having a ready-to-grab collection of necessities will expedite your ability to escape.
Ways to prepare for the event of a human-caused disaster include developing a communication plan with your loved ones and participating in a CERT training. For more information regarding these and other types of hazards, visit http://www.ready.gov/.