Mesa Fire near Lompoc at 55-percent containment
A 300-acre vegetation fire that grew quickly on the Burton Mesa north of Lompoc near La Purisima Mission was 55-percent contained just after 8 p.m. Monday, according to Santa Barbara County Fire officials who said full containment could come Tuesday morning.
The fire started around 1 p.m. Monday, burning into an area of heavy brush, with movement toward Cebada Canyon, according to David Zaniboni, public information officer for the county Fire Department.
The fire prompted mandatory evacuations for residents in the Cebada Canyon and Gypsy Canyon areas. An evacuation warning was issued for the nearby Mission Hills area, however. No more evacuations were planned, according to County Fire.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., County Fire reduced its mandatory evacuation order for residents on Tularosa Road and Gypsy Canyon Road to evacuation warnings.
An estimated 1,400 residents were affected by the evacuations, officials said.
"We have a lot of personnel on the scene," Zaniboni said Monday afternoon. "We have four air tankers right now, two additional ordered. We have two helicopters and one additional ordered. We also have 24 engines either on scene or en route, four dozers (and) six hand crews."
Monday night, Zaniboni confirmed that they had released the four air tankers. The three helicopters were anticipated to continue their drops all through the night, he said.
Fire crews also were expected to work at the scene throughout the night and into the morning, Zaniboni added.
Full containment is expected sometime Tuesday morning, he said.
"We got in this fire fast and aggressive," he said. "We had air tankers here right away, cruising around, and we had no injuries, no homes lost, so we were very fortunate and we did good. It was a pretty big team effort."
The multi-agency effort included more than 120 firefighters, along with other emergency personnel, including representatives from the Santa Barbara County Fire, Cal Fire, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, the California Highway Patrol, the Lompoc Fire Department and the Vandenberg Fire Department.
At 7:30 p.m., Zaniboni confirmed that firefighters from both San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties had joined in the emergency efforts.
"This was an excellent response," he said.
All the commotion caused a number of onlookers to gather in the area.
"I woke up from taking a nap and came out and saw this smoke and I said, 'No, no, no, you don't,'" said Jeanie Magalong, a nearby resident who was walking along Via Lato, past a police barricade.
Bob Barwick, who lives in Vandenberg Village, was in a restricted area taking photos when personnel told him to leave.
"I wanted to get video of the planes dropping the retardant and the helicopters dropping the water," he said.
Emergency personnel set up their operations headquarters in a parking lot at the intersection of Burton Mesa Boulevard and Rucker Road.
The American Red Cross set up an Evacuation Center at the Trinity Church of the Nazarene, located at 500 E. North Avenue.
Animal Services requested that owners who needed assistance with small animals should drop them off at the Lompoc Animal Shelter, located at 1501 W. Central Ave.
Owners with larger animals were asked to take them to the Elks Rodeo Grounds, off Highway 101, in Santa Maria. The hotline for those requiring assistance is 681-4332.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
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