Santa Barbara County avocados hold off fire but take a hit


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The Gap fire, which has burned through nearly 9,500 acres in Santa Barbara County, has also destroyed an estimated $9.5 million in primarily avocado crops, according to county officials.

Last week the county’s agricultural commissioner reported to the California Office of Emergency Services that at least 233 acres of avocado orchards, or $1 million of the fruit, have been lost. More than 200 acres of avocado orchards have been destroyed, and at least 33 acres of orchards have been damaged, according to the preliminary assessment.


That adds up to about $9.5 million lost over the next five to seven years, after including the cost of new trees, farm equipment, irrigation lines and non-production while waiting for the new trees to bear fruit, according to the county estimate.

The fire, which was 90% contained this morning, burned to about 3.5 miles from the city of Goleta. One of the major fuel breaks protecting the town, according to fire officials, were the avocados.

-- Tami Abdollah

Photo: A firefighter is dwarfed by smoke in the Santa Ynez Mountains. Firefighters hoped the irrigated lemon and avocado groves below would slow any run the fire might take down the canyons into the Goleta neighborhoods. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times