Blissful Santa Barbara Foothills Left Burned by Negligent Bonfire. City College Students Allegedly Responsible
Nine of the 10 college students who set the bonfire that sparked the Montecito fire went to Santa Barbara City College, officials announced today.
College officials said they were informed by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department about the students.
"We are deeply saddened by this news and extend our heartfelt sympathies to all members of the community and their families who were affected by this tragedy," said college President Andreea M. Serban in a statement. "This tragedy also has had a direct and significant impact on SBCC faculty, staff and students who were among those who lost their homes and personal possessions during this fire."
Ten men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 22, had gathered at an abandoned property called the Teahouse late Wednesday night and built a bonfire to warm themselves, Sheriff's Department officials said. They told fire investigators that they thought the bonfire was out when they left early Thursday morning. But embers continued to smolder for more than 12 hours and were reignited by Santa Ana-type winds that evening, authorities said. The fast-moving flames destroyed 210 homes and damaged nine others. At least 25 people were injured, three of them with burns.
"Our students, as with all college students, have personal lives outside of the college. We acknowledge these boundaries and do not oversee students' personal activities away from campus," Serban said in the statement. "We will cooperate with local authorities to the extent possible in their ongoing investigation. The authorities will decide any further course of action for these students who were involved in this tragic accident.
-- Shelby Grad LA Times Blog