Environment & Science

Alamo Fire burns thousands of acres in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties

The Alamo Fire burning on Friday, July 7, 2017.
The Alamo Fire burning on Friday, July 7, 2017.
via Cal Fire
The Alamo Fire burning on Friday, July 7, 2017.
The Alamo Fire burning on Friday, July 7, 2017.
via Cal Fire


Hot, dry and gusty winds have exploded the fast burning Alamo Fire. In eight hours, the fire tripled in size to 24,000 acres or 30 square miles, according to Cal Fire.

The fire, which started Thursday afternoon, has burned at an extreme rate of speed and remains only 10 percent contained.

About a thousand fire fighters have been battling the fire spanning Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Five helicopters dropping water and four planes spraying fire retardant were also deployed.

The fire jumped retardant lines that had been in place on Friday afternoon and began "burning out of control," according to Santa Barbara County Fire's Dave Zaniboni. Crews are dealing with a lot of environmental challenges, officials said.

"We have a lot of dead vegetation in the area and very steep terrain, [it's] inaccessible," said Zaniboni. "We had high winds and low relative humidity and high temperatures all evening long.  There's no fog this morning, so it's already clear and the fire is burning very active right now."

The fire spread from San Luis Obispo County into Santa Barbara County, according to fire officials. It was burning just north of Highway 166 near Twitchell Reservoir, according to Cal Fire, and was being pushed by winds, Zaniboni said.

Approximately 300 residents were notified of initial voluntary evacuations via reverse 911, Zaniboni said. Mandatory evacuation orders were later issued for Blazing Saddles and White Oak, with an evacuation warning in effect for the Tepesquet and Buckhorn areas, according to Santa Barbara County.

An air quality watch was put into effect for northern Santa Barbara County, with the Alamo Fire producing smoke that the county said may blow into the Santa Maria are and other northern parts of the county.

"If you see or smell smoke in the air, be cautious and use common sense to protect your and your family's health. Everyone, especially people with heart or lung disease (including asthma), older adults, and children, should limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when high concentrations of smoke and particles are in the air," Santa Barbara County said in a statement.

People who need assistance evacuating animals are advised to call Santa Barbara County Animal Services at (805) 681-4332.

This story has been updated.