Editor’s Note: This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.
A brush fire that broke out west of Santa Barbara on Monday has burned 15,442 acres and is only 5% contained as of Wednesday.
Santa Barbara County has proclaimed a local emergency in response to the “Alisal Fire.”
The fire, which began at around 2:30 p.m. on Monday, has closed Highway 101 between Highway 1 and Winchester Canyon Road in Goleta.
An evacuation order has been given for those living or staying in Arroyo Hondo Canyon, Refugio Canyon and anywhere in between El Capitan State Beach Park and West Camino Cielo.
As a result of these evacuation orders, Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta is offering emergency shelter for evacuees.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has issued an Air Quality Watch for the county, as strong winds are blowing ash, dust and debris into the air.
As of now, the fire looks like it will persist for a while and impact Santa Barbara County for the near future, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig.
“We expect you will see fire crews out there for the coming weeks if not months,” Hartwig said.
Biology sophomore Emma Tracewell is from Santa Barbara, but being away from home during a local emergency is unsettling.
“I feel helpless,” Tracewell said. “There are so many people I love who live in areas that are being affected.”
Santa Barbara is no stranger to wildfires, as the Thomas Fire in December of 2017 left the city engulfed in smoke for weeks. This fire burned 281,893 acres and was the largest wildfire in California’s history at the time.
“It’s sad and scary,” Tracewell said. “Santa Barbara is a beautiful place and I hate to see it constantly being threatened by fires.”
With its history of fires in recent years, the City of Santa Barbara was “well prepared,” according to Third District Supervisor for the City of Santa Barbara Joan Hartmann.
“We have the very best people and resources anywhere in the country helping us through the fire,” Hartmann said in a press conference on Wednesday. “We’ve been through this many times before and we know how to call people into action.”