Tea Fire 100% contained; 200+ homes destroyed
SANTA BARBARA — After the destruction of 210 homes, the Mt. Calvary Monestary and parts of Westmont College, firefighters were able to contain 100 percent of the "Tea Fire" by Nov. 18. County officials put the firefighting cost at $5.7 million to date.
Three people suffered burn injuries while another 22 were treated for smoke inhalation. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Nov. 14 for Santa Barbara County and then for Los Angeles County Nov. 15 after fires broke out in the San Fernando Valley, burning some 500 homes.
More than 2,000 firefighters poured into Santa Barbara County to help subdue the fires and provide relief to evacuees. The Tea Fire burned about 1,940 acres by the evening of Nov. 16.
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services coordinated the deployment of about 300 fire engines and 64 strike teams to the Montecito area. Two people were injured as a result of the fire, according to officials.
Greg Renick, the GOES’s information officer, said the strike teams were pulled into the region from throughout the state.
At the worst moments of the Montecito blaze, bout 5,500 homes were evacuated. Although many schools in the area were closed Nov. 14, all said they would be open Nov. 17.
At Westmont College, which is nestled into the hills of Montecito, 14 faculty homes and eight other buildings, including three dormitories, were destroyed, according to a fire update on the college’s Web site. Several of the buidings burned were ironically scheduled for demolition in the coming weeks.
The Tea Fire began around 6 p.m. Nov. 13 and quickly spread to hundreds of acres within several hours, fanned by winds as high as 70 mph on Nov. 13. Flames have consumed about 1,800 acres so far, officials said.
Because of gusty winds, the flames were most intense in the first six hours of the fire and could be seen for at least a dozen miles.
Fore more information, visit www.countyofsb.org or call the Montecito Fire Department at (805) 681-5197.
For continued updates on the fire, visit www.pacbiztimes.com. For full coverage, see the Nov. 21 issue of the Business Times.
This story was last updated at 10:10 p.m. Nov. 16.