Large, destructive and deadly wildfires have become the "new normal" for California, according to the state Fire Foundation, and they can break out anytime, anywhere.
Santa Barbara County has an average of 100 wildfires per year. While almost 96% of them are contained at less than 10 acres, the exceptions are record-setting.
The 2007 Zaca fire at just over 240,000 acres is still among the state's 20 largest wildfires since 1932, along with the Thomas fire that burned into Santa Barbara County from Ventura at almost 282,000 acres.
State and federal officials have listed every city, town, village and cluster of homes in the county as “at risk” of wildfire, even places like Santa Maria and Guadalupe, which are surrounded by thousands of acres of farmland.
Fire officials attribute Santa Barbara County’s high risk, in part, to its location in the wildfire “Goldilocks zone." The county sits far enough north to get good winter rainfall, but it’s far enough south to feel the Southern California summer heat that cooks fuels tinder-dry.
Fire officials attribute the county's high risk, in part, to its location in the wildfire "Goldilocks zone," where conditions are "just right" to grow fuels, then cook them tinder-dry.
The county's mix of topography, abundant fuels and Sundowner winds presents a specific set of challenges for firefighters who say they'd rather fight wildfires almost anywhere than the place some of them have dubbed Wildfire County.
Residents who lived in Mission Hills during the 2017 Rucker fire share their experiences from what was a frighteningly close call that highlighted local wildfire dangers and risks.
Steve and Renée O'Neill consider their 70-acre ranch near the top of Tepusquet Canyon one of the most beautiful properties in Santa Barbara County.
Chaparral is the fuel that makes Santa Barbara County wildfires so dangerous and difficult to control. It most areas of the county, it makes up one arm of wildfire's triangle of ingredients — fuels, weather and topography.
Biologists, botanists, ecologists and fire scientists generally embrace the concept that fire is a necessary part of the natural life cycle of…
With about 14,000 homes in the communities of Vandenberg Village, Mission Hills and Mesa Oaks located on and around the reserve, and with wildfires becoming increasingly stronger and more dangerous, protecting the region from wildland blazes has become a renewed priority for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
While Santa Barbara County's fire marshal Rob Hazard doesn't believe wildfires are becoming more unpredictable in their behavior, he does acknowledge conditions are changing making them bigger, longer lasting, and being more difficult to contain.
“Firenado” sounds like the title for a campy science-fiction flick, but it’s a real phenomenon that firefighters say they’re seeing more often as wildfires worldwide become more intense.
The Cave fire that erupted Nov. 25 was a textbook example of Santa Barbara County wildfires, encompassing virtually all the elements that, in one combination or another, have characterized the South Coast’s most significant blazes.
Sundowners blow over, and through, the Santa Ynez Mountains onto the coastal plains around Santa Barbara. The bane of firefighters, they heat the air by compression as they push it downward against the land below, squeezing out its moisture and helping wildfires ignite and spread
Los Padres ForestWatch says conducting prescribed burns and carving fuel breaks are a waste of time and money that would be better spent on fire-hardening homes and communities. The nonprofit advocates simple, but not necessarily inexpensive, steps homeowners can take to make their houses more resistant to wildfires.
Two methods of preventing and controlling wildfires are so mired in controversy that getting their use approved is difficult and if approved, opposition sometimes brings them to a halt. Ironically, both sides cite the Thomas fire as evidence to bolster their positions.
For 75 years, Smokey Bear has been the U.S. Forest Service’s iconic representative for wildfire prevention, but he wasn’t named for a burned orphan bear cub as many people believe. In fact, the reverse is true.
Although “fire season” is now considered year-round in Santa Barbara County and throughout most of California, the danger level increases when a mild spring warms into a hot summer and then bakes into a blazing fall.
The best way to prepare for wildfires is to prevent them from igniting in the first place. But that may be far easier said than done, because the primary cause of wildfires is people.
As the Whittier Fire raged up the slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains, 30 young campers and 12 staff members escaped from Circle V Ranch Camp along the dirt access road to Highway 154. But in the blink of an eye, 83 people, including 56 campers, were trapped by a wall of flame.