Whittier fire in Los Padres National Forest consumes more than 18,000 acres

A plane drops fire retardant on the Whittier fire in Goleta on Saturday as firefighters on the ground employed controlled backfires along Camino Cielo in the Santa Ynez Mountains.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Whittier fire in Santa Barbara County, which has burned 17 homes and forced the evacuation of 2,600 people, has grown to more than 18,000 acres, authorities said Sunday.

The fire in Los Padres National Forest remains 36% contained as it continues to creep downhill along its eastern, western and southern edges, according to fire officials. The fire grew by nearly 700 acres overnight.

Despite scorching temperatures that could reach triple digits Sunday, “the conditions are looking pretty favorable,” said Beth Hudick, a public information officer for the Whittier fire. “The winds have kicked back a little bit.”

Hudick added that fire crews were not expecting intense “sundowner” winds in the near future.


As of Sunday morning, more than 1,900 fire personnel were battling the fire in the Santa Ynez Mountains, which started more than a week ago. Its cause is still under investigation.

Officials more than doubled their tally of burned structures on Sunday morning to 17 homes and 36 outbuildings. However, they stressed that the additional buildings had been damaged or destroyed in the early hours, not in recent days.

To the north, the Alamo fire in San Luis Obispo County was 95% contained as of Sunday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

That fire began a few days earlier and burned more than 28,000 acres, destroying one home and damaging another structure. Fire crews will remain in the area in the coming weeks, removing equipment.


Twitter: @LATimesEmily