Whittier Fire in Los Padres National Forest Grows to 17,000 Acres, Containment Drops

Flames from the Whittier fire impinge on a home in Santa Barbara County. (Credit: Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

The Whittier fire burning in Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara County grew by about 4,000 acres overnight to more than 17,000 acres, which officials attributed Saturday to a combination of low humidity, high temperatures, steep terrain and brush fueling the fire on its southern flank.

After reporting Friday that the fire was more than 50% contained, officials said Saturday morning it was only 34% contained. But they said they expected fire crews to regain the upper hand on Saturday.

The increase in the size of the fire was due in part to controlled burns that were set to reduce the amount of fuel available in its path, said Mike McMillan, a Whittier fire information officer. Fire officials had prepared for severe “sundowner winds” Friday night but they turned out to be mostly mild, McMillan said.

“We had a very calm night as far as the fire behavior goes and that’s because the wind never really picked up,” he said.

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