Over the last eleven years, Santa Barbara County has experienced 15 major fires. Seven of these fires, the Gap, Tea, Jesusita, Sherpa and three 2018 fires – the Whittier, Holiday, and Thomas Fires directly threatened the heavily populated Santa Barbara Front Country. The three 2018 fires destroyed multiple homes and forced the evacuations of thousands of residents in the communities of Goleta, Carpenteria, and Monticeto. Two of these fires, the Tea Fire and Jesusita Fire destroyed close to three hundred structures and burned a total of 16 1/2 square miles. Due to the 2009 Jesusita Fire, the Mission Canyon area of Santa Barbara suffered extensive fire impact destroying 80 residences, 80 outbuildings, and required the evacuation of 30,500 people. The structure loss occurred during one burning period when 65 mile per hour Sundowner winds pushed the fire directly into the Mission Canyon community.
The most prominent fire in Santa Barbara County history in regards to destruction of homes and intensity was the 1990 Paint Fire. This fire, also driven by local Sundowner winds, traveled two miles in less than twenty minutes and destroyed 673 homes and structures.
To adequately respond to the extreme fire behavior common to Santa Barbara County, SBCFD is the only fire agency in Santa Barbara County that provides Air and Wildland response resources. Those resources include our two Firefighting Helicopters, four Fire Bulldozers (Construction Section) and two Type 1, 20-person Fire Crews. These firefighting resources are utilized both in the county and throughout the state when needed.
However, because SBCFD is an all-risk emergency response agency, our helicopters, dozers and fire hand crews are also utilized on back country medical rescues, earthquakes, mud and debris flows, trench collapses and ocean and swift water rescues. Visit our pages dedicated to each of these specialties to obtain more information.