cal coast news

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department

The first significant storm of the year to hit the Central and South Coast has prompted massive evacuation orders for parts of the region.

Forecasters say the storm could bring two to four inches of rain to coastal and inland areas, and four to seven inches in foothills and mountains between now, and Tuesday morning.

The biggest concern is the potential for locally heavy rainfall, with rainfall rates of a half inch to inch an hour hitting mountain slopes and foothills stripped bare by recent brush fires.

The environmental community is outraged over the Trump Administration’s proposal to open wide swaths of federal waters off the nation’s coastline to new oil and gas development, a plan which includes the Central and South Coasts.

Ventura County’s Sheriff has announced he plans to retire.

Sheriff Geoff Dean told Sheriff’s Office employees that he won’t see re-election this year. His term ends next January, but in an e-mail to Sheriff’s Office employees, Dean says he’s planning to step down in November.

A month to the day after it started, firefighters are continuing efforts to contain the huge Thomas brush fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

The fire’s statistics haven’t changed much in the last few days, with nearly 282,000 acres burned, and 92% containment.

The focus remains on the northeaster corner of the blaze, in the Los Padres National Forest, where helicopter water drops are being used to control hot spots in some inaccessible mountain areas.

(Image courtesy Raw Science Film Festival)

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.

UC Santa Barbara researchers are talking about using laser propelled microchips as tiny spacecraft, to explore the closest stars. The research is one of the projects being highlighted at a unique South Coast film festival this weekend.

(Ojai Music Festival photo)

A world famous music festival based on the South Coast has announced the Music Director for its 2020 event.

Matthias Pintscher will serve as the Ojai Music Festival’s Music Director in two years.

A storm system which has created widespread cloud cover and some showers for parts of the Central and South Coasts isn’t expected to pose a risk for recent brush fire burn areas. But, there could be a bigger system which could create problems in the Thomas, and Whittier Fire burn zones next week.

The crackle of the Thomas Fire is gone from Ventura and Montecito.

But, besides the destruction it’s left behind, the largest brush fire in modern day history in the state created a new threat: Flash flooding, debris flows, and mudslides.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

A major brush fire on the Central and South Coasts is finally out, but it’s not the huge fire that’s been in the news for the past month.

It’s the Whittier Fire, which started July 8th near Lake Cachuma, in Santa Barbara County. The blaze destroyed 16 homes, and 30 other buildings as it burned south over the Santa Ynez Mountains to threaten homes on the coast.

(USFS Photo)

Milder weather continues to help firefighters trying to get full containment of the huge Thomas Fire, burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Containment remains at 92% on the nearly 282,000 acre blaze. The containment and acreage burned figures haven’t changed significantly in the last few days.

Cooler weather is supporting efforts by firefighters to get full containment of the massive Thomas brush fire.

The nearly 282,000 acre brush fire is 92% contained.

(Photo courtesy Tom Zasadzinski, Cal Poly Pomona)

A Central Coast university continued its tradition of winning big honors at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, with its 70th anniversary float in the New Year’s Day tradition.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students once again teamed up with Cal Poly Pomona students to build a parade float.

(Los Padres National Forest photo)

Containment continues to move forward on the massive Thomas brush fire, which is still burning in backcountry areas.

Firefighters say despite temperatures 10-20 degrees above normal, efforts to fully corral the fire are going well. The amount of acreage burned has hovered at just under 282,000 acres for the last few days. Containment is now at 92%.

Firefighters continue their efforts to close in on full containment of the massive Thomas brush fire.

The blaze is now at 91% containment, and still stands at around 281,000 acres burned in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The focus remains on some rugged, back country areas on the northeast corner of the fire.

(Ventura Ciunty Fire photo)

Firefighters say efforts to contain the massive Thomas brush fire continue to go well, with no additional forward progress of the fire expected.

Containment is up to 89%, with 281,000 acres burned. The little remaining active fire continues to be in back country areas. There are a few hot spots on the northeast corner of the fire, in the Bear Haven area.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Firefighters say the efforts to get full containment of the massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are going well, with the only mildly active flames in a wilderness area miles from communities.

Containment is up to 88% on the 281,000 acre blaze.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Firefighters say they have been building on previous gains, and have reached 86% containment on the massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Firefighters say they've made big progress towards total containment of the massive Thomas brush fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Containment hit 70% Saturday night on the fire, which began December 4th.  The fire has burned 273,400 acres.  On Friday, it became the largest fire in modern California history, surpassing the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

It was a spectacular launch from the Central Coast which lit up the Southern California skies.

The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying communication satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base just before 5:30 Friday night created a huge buzz on social media. It created a gigantic streak in the sky which could be seen for hundreds of miles.

With firefighters continuing to make progress against the Thomas Fire, plans have been announced to shut down the main local assistance center for the public.

Ventura County and the City of Ventura opened the center December 13th at Ventura’s Poinsettia Pavilion. It will permanently close at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Thomas Fire has taken a tough human toll.  It's left two people dead, destroyed several hundred homes, and displaced tens of thousands of people, some for weeks.

It’s also hit Ventura and Santa Barbara's economies.  Evacuations, power outages, and smoke impacted hundreds of businesses on the South Coast during what’s supposed to be one of their busiest times of the year.

While a number of businesses in communities like Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, Carpinteria, Montecito, and Santa Barbara  have been hurt, they are trying to get the word out that their doors are open again for business.

Even as firefighters work to get control of the massive Thomas brush fire, thousands of people in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are struggling to cope with the physical and emotional impacts of the inferno.

From lost homes, to ongoing evacuations, and the trauma of having to flee from the inferno, there are lots of stories coming from the flames.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Firefighters say they’ve had another good day in efforts to get a handle on the massive Thomas fire, with containment up to 55%. There are no new threats to communities in the region from the 272,000 acre blaze.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Firefighters are taking advantage of improved wind conditionsc to continue to make progress towards containment of the huge Thomas brush fire.  The fire has burned 270,000 acres, and is 45% contained.

With a lull in the wind Monday, plans to use backfires to stop the spread of the inferno were implemented.

A shift in the weather has given firefighters in Southern Santa Barbara a break, but created new concerns for crews battling the Thomas fire in Ventura County.

The sundowner winds eased as predicted Saturday night in the foothills about the Santa Barbara area, giving teams a break after a day long firefight, with hot embers starting fires around a number of homes.  The weather pattern shifted leading to Santa Ana winds in Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties on Sunday.

A procession is set to begin in Ventura County Sunday morning to return the body of a firefighter who died battling the Thomas Fire to San Diego County.

Cory Iverson died on Thursday while helping to fight a flareup of the fire northwest of Fillmore. An autopsy showed the CalFIRE engineer died as a result of smoke inhalation and burns.

The 32 year old firefighter leaves behind a wife and a two year old daughter. They were also expecting a second daughter.

Thousands of firefighters battled the Thomas brush fire as extreme wind conditions tried to push the blaze southwest into Montecito and Santa Barbara Saturday, and they were able to keep the flames from spreading to potentially thousands of homes.

Strong winds led to a flareup Saturday morning, prompting an estimated 16,000 mandatory evacuations in an area stretching from Summerland to Highway 154. The normally busy Montecito Village area became a ghost town, because it was part of the evacuation zone.

(Photo by John Palminteri)

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.

A flareup of the Thomas Fire outside of Fillmore led to a firefight which threatened dozens of ranches, and homes.

It was a firefight in the mountains northwest of Fillmore near Grand Avenue which had been brewing for days. The fire has been flaring up during the nights this week, and firefighters would use helicopters to knock it down during the days.  But, this time the mountains exploded in flames.

Two United Way organizations on the Central and South Coasts have joined forces to help Thomas Fire victims.

United Way of Santa Barbara County has joined the United Way of Ventura County’s fundraising efforts.

$2.25 million dollars has already been pledged to the United Way Thomas Fire Fund campaign. Organizers say 100% of the donations will support people in communities impacted by the fire.

The fire is the fourth largest in California history, and has destroyed more than 900 structures, and is still threatening 18,000 more in the region.