Firefighters have been making a lot of progress against Santa Barbara County’s Whittier brush fire, but they say it’s still too soon to predict when they’ll have full control over it.
The blaze has burned more than 18,000 acres of land south of Lake Cachuma, and is 49% contained.
Firefighters say even as they work towards stopping the Whittier Fire, rugged terrain is making full containment a tough proposition.
The focus Monday is on the northwest corner of the fire, which is in backcountry areas of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Past brush fires on other sides of the blaze’s perimeter have aided containment efforts, by reducing fuel for the now 10 day old fire.
Incident Commander Mark Von Tillow, with the U.S. Forest Service, says a more complete assessment of the burn area shows more structures burned than first thought, with 16 primary residences destroyed. Von Tillow says the good news is while there have been a few hundred cases of poison ivy among firefighters, no serious injuries have been reported.
Meanwhile, firefighters are winding down the battle against the Alamo brush fire, northeast of Santa Maria. That fire burned about 29,000 acres of brush, with containment at 98%. Final mopup efforts could take some time still, but most of the firefighters involved with the fire are being released. Highway 166 reopened last week after being closed for several days by the blaze which started on July 6th.