The cause of the La Brea Fire that Santa Barbara County is fighting against is said to be from a cooking fire at a marijuana drug trafficking operation. The incident can be added to Santa Barbara’s list of man-made wildfire incidents. Since the summer of 2008, has experienced a total so far of four wildfires: the Gap Fire, the Jesusita Fire, the Tea Fire and now the La Brea Fire. Each one was caused by man.
Santa Barbara County in 2009 has experienced the same amount of fires as last year. 2008 saw two fires, the Gap Fire and the Tea Fire, while 2009 has seen the Jesusita Fires as well as the La Brea Fire now. The combination of the 2008 and 2009 fires is a reminder that the fire season in California is year round. The Gap Fire of 2008 and the La Brea Fire both started in the summer. The Gap Fire started in July while the La Brea Fires started almost a year later in August. The Tea Fire in 2008 raged in the fall, while the Jesusita Fire started in the spring, specifically in May. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in response to the Gap Fire, also made the observation. “Now there is no more fire season,” he said. “We have fires all year round. What this means is we need more resources.” According to The Santa Barbara Independent that very year, in order to provide for “more resources,” Schwarzenegger allocated $70 million in emergency response funding, coming from charging homeowners an additional dollar per month per property.
The La Brea Fire, located 21 mile east of Santa Maria started Saturday, August 8. According to updated statistics, it is currently 75% contained. So far, it has burned 88,650 acres. Two structures have been destroyed, including the non-operational White Oaks Ranger Station and a hunter’s cabin. Fire fighters are still working to contain the fire, but the current activity can still be compared and contrasted with the past three fires that the county had to put out.
The Gap fire raged in July 2008, burning a total of 9,443 acres. Four outbuildings were destroyed. The costs of damage soar above $10 million. And again, it was human caused. The Santa Barbara Independent suspects that the fire started at an old shooting spot. A report has said that fire fighters found a Coca Cola bottle, suggesting human involvement, close to the point of origin. A recent report published in June 2009, from the Noozhawk for the Santa Barbara and Goleta area said that a boy 16-year-old boy was the culprit for the crime of arson that started the fire. He was allegedly setting fires in the brush around Lizard’s Mouth along West Camino Cielo. The case is now closed.
A couple months later, in November, the Te Fire started in Montecito. It consumed nearly 2,000 acres and destroyed rows of multi-million-dollar houses. 230 homes were destroyed and damaged. The estimated cost: $5,700,000. Again, the cause is man-made, but compared to the Gap Fire more people were involved. The cause is said to be a campfire, and the culprits are called the “Tea Fire Ten.” Nine out of the ten of them, according to the Santa Barbara Independent, were students at Santa Barbara City College and the other a UCSB alumni. Like the culprit of the Gap Fire, the suspects were young people, ranging from 18-22 years old.
The Jesusita fire occurred the following year in May 2009, burning 8,733 acres, destroyed 160 structures and damaged 17, with estimated costs to be around $17 million. Unlike the Gap Fire, 80 homes were destroyed and 15 were damaged. Many of the evacuees were professors and faculty of the University of California, Santa Barbara, causing classes to be cancelled. It is said that the cause is also man-made. The immense cost, both expensive and priceless was due to the use of power tool equipment involved in vegetation clearance.
So far, the fires from 2008-2009 have been caused by man-young men rather, for the 2008 fires-and thus, could have been avoided by man. Both Nature and Mankind could have been saved from so much priceless and irreplaceable damage.