Santa Barbara is the kind of place that in normal times wraps visitors in a warm, soft, fuzzy cocoon.
Even on the hottest days of summer, there’s a coolness in the air that cuts through the sunshine.
But the cocoon that wrapped its arms around the city for 96 hours starting May 5 was not warm, soft or fuzzy. It was a firestorm with a hard edge that sucked the moisture out of the air and left behind a legacy of ash and destruction born on fast-moving sundowner winds.
From the vantage point of the Business Times newsroom, we watched in fascination and terror as the smoke billowed over the city late on Wednesday afternoon. We were in the final process of putting the newspaper to bed.