KEY POINTS

  • Alisal Fire has grown to 15,442 acres
  • Strong winds are further fueling the fire that was ignited northwest of the Refugio Canyon
  • The fire is expected to reach the Gato Canyon on Thursday

More than 800 firefighters remain on the ground as they battle the Alisal Fire in California, which has now grown to 15,442 acres after it was ignited Monday northwest of Refugio Canyon. New evacuation orders have also been enforced due to the said fire.

Santa Barbara County has issued new evacuation orders for Arroyo Hondo Canyon, the area between El Capitan Beach State Park and West Camino Cielo, and Refugio Canyon. The County Sheriff’s Department asked residents to “leave the area immediately.” An evacuation warning was also issued for residents in the south of West Camino Cielo, east of El Capitan Beach State Park, and west of Dos Pueblos Canyon Rd.

The Alisal fire also shut down part of Highway 101 and Amtrak lines in the country as officials revealed that the fire was contained at 5% as of Wednesday evening, CNN reported. It is currently burning 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara within Refugio Canyon.

At a community briefing, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann said the Alisal fire “is a reminder that as summer winds down, our fire season ramps up,” CBS News reported. Local officials raised concerns about strong winds further fanning the rapidly expanding fire.

Santa Barbara County fire chief Mark Hartwig also said that the Alisal fire was a “wind-driven fire,” warning that the weather is driving flames to spread faster.

In a press release Tuesday, utility provider Pacific Gas & Electric notified 16,000 customers of planned power outages Thursday due to “fire weather.” The provider said the outages will be “in targeted portions of 12 counties.” Customers have been advised to check the monitoring site where potential safety shutoffs will be announced.

The Santa Barbara Public Health Department has also issued an Air Quality Watch in the area, warning that the fire has brought about “a dynamic situation, and local air quality conditions can change quickly.” Air pollution control officials said all residents should “head indoors and remain indoors as much as possible” when they see or smell smoke from the fire.

The Santa Barbara Public Health Department has also issued an Air Quality Watch in the area, warning that the fire has brought about “a dynamic situation, and local air quality conditions can change quickly.” Air pollution control officials said all residents should “head indoors and remain indoors as much as possible” when they see or smell smoke from the fire.

As of Wednesday evening, in the latest update on the Alisal Fire on Inciweb, officials said there were 811 personnel working to battle the fire, down from more than 1,300 after the fire ignited. The update also noted that “fire remained active throughout the night.” It is expected that the Alisal Fire will continue growing “into Gato Canyon to the West” through Thursday.

Fire fighters watch as flames quickly spread across a road at the Bear fire in Oroville, California in September 2020, one of a number of worsening disasters that experts have linked to climate change Fire fighters watch as flames quickly spread across a road at the Bear fire in Oroville, California in September 2020, one of a number of worsening disasters that experts have linked to climate change Photo: AFP / JOSH EDELSON