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Goleta Fire

Air support expected at daybreak to battle fire above Goleta

Firefighting helicopters and air tankers were expected to be airborne at first light Wednesday morning to battle a wildland fire burning in the mountains above Goleta.

Fire crews spent Tuesday night working to contain the moderate- to fast-moving blaze -- dubbed the Gap Fire -- that was burning down the face of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered at 9:40 p.m. for the Glen Annie and La Patera foothill areas above western Goleta, including mainly rural ranch land.

Residents living north of Cathedral Oaks Road between Glen Annie Road and Fairview Avenue were advised to be prepared to evacuate.

An evacuation center was opened at San Marcos High School, 4750 Hollister Ave., in Santa Barbara.

By late Tuesday night, the only acreage update was 40 to 50 acres as of 8 p.m., according to officials at the fire information center, which was also providing information on fires burning in Monterey County.

The fire started along West Camino Cielo Road, west of Highway 154, at about 5:45 p.m. No cause was reported.

Flames from the blaze were clearly visible throughout the Goleta Valley, and residents gathered outside through the evening to watch the glow in the hills above.

No injuries had been reported as of 8 p.m.

Firefighting resources from Ventura and Los Angeles counties were on their way Tuesday night, including structure-protection teams and brush engines. By 11 p.m., officials were unsure if any structures were threatened, but engines would be on hand if needed.

Winds were reported at 15 mph to 20 mph in the fire areas, with gusts up to 35 mph.

Mild sundowner winds were possible, said Rosa Martinez Sotelo, fire information officer, but she noted fire crews were prepared for them.

“Right now winds are mild, (but firefighters) are establishing themselves in case,” she said.

The National Weather Service was calling for gusty winds from the north possible through early this morning through passes and canyons of the Santa Ynez Mountain range.

Fire crews were going door-to-door, talking to residents of the Glen Annie area, according to a report from county fire dispatch.

The blaze was initially moving slowly downhill, said Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Capt. Eli Iskow.

Before darkness fell, two air tankers were dropping retardant on the fire, which was moving southwest toward Goleta. However, tankers were grounded during the night.

“There is no immediate threat to any structures at this time, but we are taking all precautions,” he said.

Firefighters were attacking the blaze aggressively, Iskow said, trying to stay ahead and downhill of the flames.

A staging area was opened at Dos Pueblos High School in western Goleta, Iskow said. Two strike teams and structure protection from out of the area had arrived to help county crews fight the blaze, which was burning within Los Padres National Forest, Iskow said.

West Camino Cielo was closed to all vehicles except firefighting engines and brush trucks, Iskow said.

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