Subscribe

Rain douses Cave fire in Santa Barbara County amid debris flow concerns

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Subscribe

GOLETA — A strong storm moved into Southern California on Wednesday, almost completely dousing a wildfire that had threatened thousands of homes but bringing a potential new threat of debris flows from barren slopes.

Residents in and below the fire area on the south Santa Barbara County coast were issued a warning late Tuesday to be prepared to evacuate if necessary, but the first round of precipitation passed without problems.

Up to an inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain fell before dawn on the fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains above the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta but it occurred over a number of hours, said Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason.

Less than two years ago a sudden deluge just east of Santa Barbara unleashed massive debris flows from freshly burned slopes, ravaging neighboring Montecito and killing 23 people.

Eliason said the size of the blaze remained at just under 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) and was technically only 10% surrounded “but for the most part the fire is pretty well taken care of and pretty well put to bed.”

Crews will have to climb slopes to extinguish remaining “stubborn smokes” but remaining evacuation areas were to be repopulated in the afternoon and firefighters from other jurisdictions were being released.

“Hopefully we’ll have everybody home in time for Thanksgiving,” Eliason said.

Another storm predicted to arrive overnight was expected to drop snow at the top of the fire area.

“You really don’t get to say that very often in California,” he said.

The fire, dubbed the Cave fire, broke out Monday afternoon in Los Padres National Forest and was rapidly spread by erratic winds, threatening 2,400 homes and forcing about 5,500 people to flee.

Firefighters prevented any homes from being lost and most evacuees were allowed to return home Tuesday afternoon.

___

Antczak reported from Los Angeles.

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine