Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Smoke Likely To Linger Over Ojai

The Zaca Fire, as photographed Aug. 20 from 8,500 feet above Lake Casitas by David Byrne, of FocalFlight.com

By Nao Braverman
The Zaca fire which has been scorching the Los Padres National Forest since the morning of the Fourth of July has recently prompted firefighters to ignite a backfire in Cuyama Valley to remove fuels between the fire line and the main fire. Ashes from the backfire have Ojai residents breathing smoke filled air though the fire is still far from the city.
As of Tuesday morning, the fire has burned 220,863 acres, more than 5,000 in the past 12 hours.
Highway 33 between Wheeler Gorge and Ventucopa will remain closed until Friday due to firefighting equipment and smoke, according to a Forest Service update.
Currently the fire is burning strong in Los Padres’ Forest Leap Canyon on the north rim of Sisquoc Canyon and has spread to the east boundary of Dick Smith Wilderness near Highway 33.
Firefighters ignited backfire operations along the Sierra Madre to contain the northern progress of the fire. Backfires from Cuyama Peak Road in Dry Canyon down Brubaker Canyon are preventing flames from spreading to Highway 33, and on Tuesday afternoon, backfires from the forest boundary at the Cuyama River drainage from Ozena to Brubaker Road have been containing the fire’s eastern progress.
On Tuesday closures were issued on Highway 33 between Wheeler Gorge and Ventucopa, and on Paradise Road to all traffic except for residents, on Happy Canyon Road and Figueroa Mountain Road at the national forest boundary, and on East Camino Cielo from Painted Cave Road to Gibraltar Road. A precautionary evacuation was issued to Highway 33 residents from the Ventura-Santa Barbara county line to Pine Summit.
As of Tuesday 72 fire crews, 3,144 personel, 139 fire engines, 20 helicopters were used to fight the flames, along with a DC-10 air tanker, according to Alberto Ortega, public information officer for the Zaca Fire. The tanker costs the Forest Service $5,500 per hour .
The fire has caused at least 39 injuries destroyed one building, and threatened 581 structures.
The cost totals more than $87.5 million and is expected to be contained by Sept. 7.


Anonymous said...

These fires are a natural process which rejuvinate the soil and are necessary for some native species to survive. Stop waisting our tax dollars on fighting mother nature.

Anonymous said...

OK that's a good one-good and dumb
and I would ask those whose property was saved by fire fighters
about the waste in tax dollars.
When the Ventura hillsides burned
last October and the fire planes
swooped down in precision drops
in didn't look it was a futile
gesture by a long shot. Besides,
you worry about tax dollars spent- the bulk of the wilderness
went up anyway. Think about it...