The wildfire burning near Santa Barbara, California, exploded in size overnight due to gusty offshore winds
The Whittier fire broke out July 8th and destroyed 8 homes before successfully being partially contained (50% of the fire was under control) on Friday before being blown out of control once again by so-called “Sundowner” winds.
The Whittier fire is now among over 50 active wildfires burning across the Western portion of the United States as hot, dry conditions persist.
On the Inciweb fire-tracking website, Cal Fire posted: “The fire continues burning in an area above the community of Goleta and crews continue to build containment and contingency lines to hold the fire in check.”
“The east and west flanks of the fire continue to burn towards established containment lines.”
Almost 3,000 individuals had to flee their homes and the community of Goleta remained under full evacuation as fire officials warned that the Sundowner winds could drive the flames toward other populated areas.
Over 1,600 firefighters worked to combat the blaze, assisted by helicopters and planes dropping water. Evacuation shelters were opened at a Goleta-based high school.
California firefighters working ceaselessly to combat waves of wildfires
The massive blaze was fed heavily by vegetation and brush that had not burned in as many as 50 years.
Cal Fire stated: “The combination of old, dry fuels with a newly cured heavy grass crop contributed to the rapid growth of this fire. Large, old oak trees are continuing to burn well after the fire has past, leaving hazardous snags along highways and firelines.”
Since the start of 2017, wildfires have been responsible for destroying twice as much land in California as they did in 2016.
Firefighters continue to struggle to contain current fires as much as they can – successfully containing by 92% the Alamo Fire and gaining tract against the Wall Fire.