National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture's Los Padres National Forest @LosPadresNF
Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture's Los Padres National Forest @LosPadresNF

On Saturday, July 8, the Whittier Fire broke out in Santa Barbara County, California. That day, 80 children staying at the nearby Circle V Camp Ranch became trapped as fire blocked the road leading out of the camp.

Whittier Fire Incident Commander Mark Von Tillow was able to send in a Forest Service employee to the camp, who kept the children calm and safe while aircraft dropped fire retardant around the perimeter to combat the flames. A Santa Barbara County Fire Department dozer was able to clear a path to the camp, and the children escaped.

During the incident, the NWS Weather Forecast Office Los Angeles/Oxnard provided critical fire weather forecast information to help the local emergency managers conduct the operation as safely as possible. During the evening of the event the NWS provided several written forecasts focusing specifically on that fire, as well as being in verbal contact to provide updates. In addition to this event, the NWS provided another heads up to an approaching wind event 24 hours later, allowing the Los Padres National Forest to send a one-hour alert to the firefighters. The firefighters later reported that winds had been quite erratic during the event and how much they appreciated the heads up.

"Thanks to all of the local Santa Barbara County emergency managers and first responders for their hard work managing the Whittier Fire and ensuring the safety of their citizens," said NWS Director Dr. Louis Uccellini. "The National Weather Service is proud to have been a partner in this effort, providing Impact-based Decision Support Services like spot forecasts and on-site meteorology support to protect lives during this devastating fire."

Local news sites have additional details on the fire and rescue effort.


Santa Ynez Valley Star