Santa Barbara Tea Fire Destroys At Least 100 Homes: still out of control
Update 6:25pm PST
The fire has closed the Santa Barbara zoo and museums.
The Santa Barbara Zoo, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History all closed today, according to their respective websites. The art museum will remain closed Saturday, and the California Indian Festival at the natural history museum also is canceled due to the fire (though the museum may open Saturday depending on conditions). Safe to say, if you were planning to visit any of these sites, check the website or call in advance.
Update 2:17pm PST
Control of the fire is not on the horizon anytime soon.
A fire chief in Santa Barbara, California says control of a wildfire that's destroyed more than 100 homes is "not even in sight."
Fire crews have been struggling to make gains against the fire before the winds pick up again. Yesterday, evening winds known as "sundowners" pushed the fire with frightening speed, burning through mansions and setting hills aflame.
At least 13 people were hurt in the Mediterranean-style coastal town of Montecito.
There is an updated google map of the evacuation area here.
Update 3pm EST
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County, which opens it up to state resources and a grant to help fight the fires:
Fire crews stationed in cul-de-sacs on winding residential roads had a 12-hour window to gain on the fire before the region's famous "sundowner" winds—which roar down the mountains to the sea as the sun sets—picked up again, with gusts that could reach 70 mph, said Santa Barbara County fire chief Ron Prince.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County on Friday as residents waited anxiously for word of their homes after fleeing flames with just a few minutes notice.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's governor, declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County, putting additional state resources at the disposal of local fire departments.
Update 12:45pm EST
The so-called Tea Fire continue to rage in Montecito, California as local and federal firefighters try to combat the blaze. Four people have been reported injured in the fires, at least two of those being firefighters. 'Strike teams' have been deployed to the hottest areas.
The luxury area is home to many celebrities, such as Oprah Winfrey, Steve Martin and many others, though it is unknown if any of their homes are damaged. Oprah Winfrey commented from taping her show in Chicago:
During today's episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show aired live in Chicago, Winfrey addressed the conflagration. "The first thing I wanted to talk about is the raging fire burning right now in my neighborhood of Montecito, Calif.
"All our prayers are with all the folks and neighbors in Santa Barbara. Hope you're well today. And those of you who lost your homes, our hearts go out to you."
Winfrey's rep told E! News that "at this point, Oprah Winfrey’s property has not been affected by the fire."
Montecito is home to many celebrities, including: Oprah Winfrey, Carol Burnett, Jonathan Winters, Steve Martin, John Cleese, Rob Lowe, Jimmy Connors, Christopher Lloyd, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Costner, Kirk Douglas, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Ellen DeGeneres.
Insurance companies posted about evacuation, insurance and recovery:
Representatives of the Insurance Information Network of California are available to discuss household evacuation planning, fire insurance, California wildfire history and other recovery issues. B-roll illustrating evacuation do’s and don’ts, as well as information on preventing underinsurance and creating a home inventory, is also available for your review on IINC’s Web site at www.iinc.org. Information specific to wildfire preparation and recovery is also available at “Disaster Central” at http://www.iinc.org/pages/The%20Wildfire%20Page.
The fire conditions are very high this weekend, with a report discussing the Southern California area:
Red flag warnings are issued by the National Weather Service and signal prime conditions for a wildfire.
Strike teams from Bakersfield and Kern County fire departments rushed today to the Tea Fire that has destroyed 100 Montecito homes and a Westmont College dormitory, officials reported.
The injured included at least two firefighters, but none were students at Westmont, a small Christian liberal arts college, according to the Associated Press.
Update Friday 10am EST:
Evacuees from the area affected by the Tea Fire have started arriving at shelters while aid workers scramble to make sure people are safe:
Earlier, Action News was at San Marcos High School, one of the evacuation centers in the Santa Barbara area where folks have started to arrive. Our cameras were not allowed inside of the evacuation center.
The fire had grown up to 2,500 acres and consumed at least 100 homes in the upscale Montecito community.
Nicole Koon of the Santa Barbara County emergency operations center says the fire has grown up to 2,500 acres early this morning.
About 5,400 residents have been evacuated.
A huge blaze engulfed a Southern California town in the early hours of Friday morning. 80 homes were destroyed and four people were injured, but luckily no fatalities have been reported.
As many as 100 homes had burned, the city of Santa Barbara reported on its Web site.
Large homes continued to burn Friday morning.
High winds fanned the fire, which started about 6:30 p.m. northwest of Los Angeles.
The fire threatened roughly 1,000 homes, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
Winds of 50 mph to 70 mph were forecast through Saturday.
Four people have been injured, according to The Associated Press, including two taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with substantial burns, Janet O'Neil, the hospital's director of public affairs, said.
About 5,400 of the community's 14,000 residents were evacuated and more could be forced to flee if the fire spreads, said Terri Nisich, a spokeswoman with the Santa Barbara County Executive Office.
At Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts college nestled amid wooded rolling hills, some 1,000 students were caught off-guard by the rapidly moving flames.
"It came pretty fast," said Tyler Rollema, a 19-year-old sophomore who was eating dinner in the cafeteria when students were told to head to the gym. "We came out and it was just blazing."
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Goleta, California, United States