Published: Sun, July 16, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Whittier fire loses containment, scorches 17364 acres; now only 36-percent contained

Whittier fire loses containment, scorches 17364 acres; now only 36-percent contained

The fire burned mainly in areas above the marine layer, McMillan said.

Officials said that overnight Friday into Saturday, the fire grew significantly on the southwestern flank, pushed by Sundowner winds.

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The slope that the Whittier fire is charring is comprised of oak trees and brush that has't burned since the Refugio fire in 1995, officials said.

Cal Fire said the blaze is 35 percent contained, down from more than 50 percent contained earlier in the week.

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Dramatic dashcam footage was released of Santa Barbara County Sheriff officers attempting to access a summer camp during the * a href="*/stories/172701" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener" *Whittier wildfire that ravaged the region on July 8.

Similar weather patterns expected for Saturday and Sunday - warm temperatures and low humidity - could prove problematic if winds become erratic, according to the National Weather Service.

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High-pressure, dry air remained over the area Saturday, creating conditions for gusty and locally strong Sundowner winds that were predicted to possibly push the fire toward populated areas Saturday evening. The system also generated breezy conditions that fanned wildfire flames, which were mostly fueled by thick brush.

Closure of the fire area is meant to help ensure that members of the public are not injured within the fire perimeter, to keep the area clear for fire equipment traffic, and to allow for the scorched landscape to begin the rehabilitation and regrowth process. 1,240 personnel have been assigned to the fire. But fire crews are prepared if that should happen, officials said. Evacuation warnings remain for Tepesquet Canyon residents only.

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The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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