Another Fire?

Santa Barbara wildfire causes brief evacuation


A fire-weary Westmont community watched unbelievingly as a wildfire took root in Mission Canyon May 5 and branched eastward toward campus during the next few days. The sight and smell of smoke awoke unpleasant recollections of the Tea Fire, as did strong winds and high temperatures. When the blaze entered Cold Spring Canyon in the mountains north of Westmont the night of May 7, fire officials took the precaution of evacuating the campus early the next morning. Finals had finished, but Baccalaureate was scheduled for the gym that evening. Fortunately, college officials began planning an alternate site as soon as the fire erupted and were able to switch the ceremony to Santa Barbara City College.

The lack of an imminent threat meant everyone had time to leave campus rather than sheltering-in-place in the gym as was necessary in November. Law enforcement officials escorted parents across barriers to pick up their students, and the evacuation took just a few hours to complete.

Cool, foggy weather tamed the blaze May 9, and officials lifted the evacuation order in Montecito early May 10. The Jesusita Fire burned nearly 9,000 acres, significantly more than the Tea Fire, but destroyed fewer homes (80 compared to more than 200).

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