Environment & Science

Sherpa Fire: 54 percent contained, nearly 8,000 acres burned

Vandenberg Air Force base firefighters help cool down a flare up during a firing operation Thursday night at the Sherpa Fire.
Vandenberg Air Force base firefighters help cool down a flare up during a firing operation Thursday night at the Sherpa Fire.
Stuart Palley for KPCC

A fire that broke out north of Santa Barbara on June 15 is at 54 percent containment Monday morning, while a heat wave bringing triple digit temperatures and gusty winds has the county on a red flag warning. 

According to Cal Fire, the Sherpa Fire has burned 7,893 acres and caused several evacuations, along with traffic problems, economic issues and reduced air quality.

Fire Tracker: Sherpa Fire in Santa Barbara County

WeatherEvacuations | Air quality

Air quality

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District has re-issued an air quality warning for southern Santa Barbara County. 

Ash is falling over the area and can be blown into the air by winds or leaf blowers, according to the district. Residents have been urged to avoid using blowers or doing any other activity that might stir ash into the air.

The district also warned anyone seeing or smelling smoke to be cautious and avoid exercising or spending time outdoors.

With the hot weather, it’s also important to be smart when cooling your house by keeping windows and doors closed and instead running the air conditioner with the fresh air intake closed, the district said.

Weather

A red flag warning was issued by the National Weather Service for Santa Barbara County that remains through 10 a.m. Tuesday. The warning says temperatures are expected to be between 90 degrees and 102 degrees. Paired with gusty sundowner winds reaching 45 mph and low levels of humidity, the head will create favorable conditions for extreme fire behavior and rapid fire spread.

Evacuations

Highway 101, which has been closed due to the fire periodically over the past few days, is currently open. Mandatory evacuations are still in effect for the following areas: 

Until evacuations are lifted, Wake Center is open as a shelter for people displaced by the wildfire. Small pets are allowed. Evacuees with large animals can call Santa Barbara County Animal Services at 805–681–4332 for help. 

Evacuation warnings are in place for the following areas: 

This story has been updated.