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Wind Creates New Problems For Firefighters Battling Thomas Fire; Flareup Above Montecito

(Photo by John Palminteri)
Wind leads to flareup of Thomas fire above Montecito Saturday morning

The wind fueled a flareup of the Thomas brush fire in the mountains above Montecito Saturday morning, and prompted new evacuations.

Firefighters had been worried about strong wind in the forecast. Dense smoke has obscured much of the flareup. The wind was mild until the predawn hours, but by around 5:30, there were some large hot spots in the mountains.

Mandatory evacuation orders have already been in effect for areas of the community north of Highway 192. New mandatory evacuation orders were issued for some new areas.  They include the area east of Highway 154 to Mission Canyon Road, and north of 192 to East Camino Cielo.  Those are mandatory evacuations, and people still in those areas should leave immediately.

The mandatory evacuation orders include the parts of Montecito north of APS, and South Salinas Street, south to Highway 101.  It's bordered by Mission Canyhon Road on the West, and Hot Springs Road on the east.

Also impacted in Montecito, and Summerland is the area north of Highway 101, and South of 192 from Toro Canyon Road to Summit Road, east of the County Club.  That is also a mandatory evacuation area.  There is a new voluntary evacuation are for Montecito south of Highway 101 to the ocean. 

There is an evacuation center at UCSB's Recreational Center.

The fire has burned 259,000 acres, and is now 40% contained. The wind is expected to be an issue for the western end of the fire Saturday, and then shift later in the day, with more of a focus on Ventura County.

There's a Red Flag warning for the potential for extreme fire danger in Southern Santa Barbara County through 10 p.m. Saturday, and for early morning Sunday until Sunday night for much of Ventura County.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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