As Sherpa Fire rages, Santa Barbara County declares state of emergency

Governor Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard, ordering the unit to be prepared to assist if needed, according to a statement issued by her office.

Conditions Sunday morning through Monday may approach Red Flag status, weather forecasters said. "While our firefighters are preparing for what could be another busy fire season, this week is an important reminder that all Californians must do their part and be ready".

More than 1,200 firefighters have been sent to battle the brush fire, which has been burning since it started near Refugio Road, west of Goleta, on Wednesday. One structure has been destroyed in the fire.

The blaze has caused repeated closures of USA 101, including Thursday evening when the fire jumped the freeway near El Capitan State Beach.

The Sherpa Fire has generated "fire tornadoes" of swirling flames and threatened at least 270 structures, leading hundreds of people to evacuate ranches and houses in the area. It also blanketed Albuquerque, the state's largest city, in a thick haze.

A firefighting DC-10 Air Tanker drops fire retardant on the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara California
A firefighting DC-10 Air Tanker drops fire retardant on the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara California

"We will see the winds each evening... right through Monday", Boldt said, adding that temperatures are expected to heat up this weekend, with highs reaching into the 90s at the beaches and getting into the 100s inland starting on Saturday and continuing through Monday.

A wildfire west of Santa Barbara is still burning out of control in coastal canyons above the Pacific Ocean.

In Arizona, a blaze called the Cedar Fire has burned about 9,600 acres in the eastern section of the state but growth appears to have slowed because of good work by firefighters and lighter-than-expected winds, fire officials said Friday at a news conference. The blaze broke out Wednesday afternoon and quickly spread from 50 acres to 1,100 by Thursday morning.

Approximately 630 personnel are assigned to the fire.



  • Hannah Rogers