Santa Barbara and Montecito “Tea Fire”, November 2008

UPDATE: the latest Santa Barbara fire is the “White Fire” in May 2013. Twitter: #whitefire.

UPDATE: the below post refers to the Tea Fire of late 2008; there’s a new Jesusita fire page for May 2009 fire,for anyone coming here by search.

NOTE: Comments on this item are open again, links updated to noon PST Friday


Jason Fox of Seattle, WA writes:

My brother is a musician and lives less than 2 miles south of the fire , he has lost power here is a picture he just took beforehand , feel free to post it on your blog, or to fwd it to news agencies , his name is Justin Fox, of the band Tripdavon. (Jason Fox, Seattle WA)

First spotted via Facebook – Doc Searls reports on the Santa Barbara fire that started November 13, 2008:

I’m listening to KNX/1070 from Los Angeles right now. “The main body of this fire is in wilderness, but there are homes below the thick black smoke… 60 mph winds… East of Mountain Drive and Cold Springs Road… the KCAL helicopter is fighting turbulence. Heavy winds.” Now they’re talking to the retired fire chief. He says the winds are high and “downcanyon” toward the ocean. “There are structures involved in this fire.” Now burning Southwest. That’s toward town. Bad.

The fire apparently started near the Tea Gardens hence the name “Tea Fire”; sometimes it’s seen just as “T Fire”.

With any fire like this there are lots of resources from the net that will emerge in the next not very many minutes to help track it. Here’s a start at what I could find.

Here’s a map from grizzlehizzle, a UCSB or maybe SBCC (?) student nearby – it appears to be up to date with detailed information, and so I replaced a previous map with this one.


28 thoughts on “Santa Barbara and Montecito “Tea Fire”, November 2008

  1. Alden

    I live right near the fire. The fire is a line going up ashley rd. At some parts, the fire has been bursting off that line. the fire has started to close the gap between coyote and westmont. It is turning alot because the winds are 50-70mphand shifting direction

  2. Linda Woods

    Does anyone live near Mission Canyon and how close is it? I’m below there closer to freeway – but worried….any info?

  3. Edward Vielmetti

    Westmont update via the Santa Barbara Independent:
    Conditions on campus improved to the point where staff were able to get
    food from the Dining Commons and bring it to the gym, where the
    community is sheltered in place.
    Conditions in the area may make it possible now to leave the campus for
    a Red Cross shelter, but that option is still being explored.
    Firefighters are currently attempting to put out several fires at Clark
    Hall. Structures lost to or significantly damaged by fire include the
    Physics Building, the ‘old Math” building, Bauder Hall and the Quonset
    Again, we are grateful that no one has been hurt on campus, and everyone
    is safely in the gymnasium and in good spirits.
    Thank you for your prayers.
    Chris Call,
    Vice President for Administration, Westmont
    Rate this comment: Thumbs Up | Thumbs Down
    Readers say: Thumbs Up: 0 of 0 • Thumbs Down: 0 of 0
    bw25 (anonymous profile)
    November 13, 2008 at 11:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

  4. Edward Vielmetti

    More Westmont information from the Chronicle of Higher Education, quoting an AP report:
    The fire, in Montecito in the coastal foothills east of Santa Barbara, reached the wooded campus early Thursday evening, interrupting some students during dinner, the Associated Press reported. Scott Craig, a spokesman for the 1,300-student Christian college, said he “saw flames about 100 feet high in the air shooting up with the wind just howling.”

  5. Edward Vielmetti

    Reuters Alertnet reports about Direct Relief International’s efforts to distribute dust masks.
    Source: Direct Relief International (DRI) – USA
    Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.
    219816 logo
    Santa Barbara, Calif. – Direct Relief International and Santa Barbara County Public Health will be distributing more free masks this Saturday at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center at East Beach in Santa Barbara from 10:30 am to 2 pm. This event follows Friday’s successful distribution of thousands of N-95 particulate respirators to Santa Barbara area residents.
    The N-95 masks, which are easy to wear, help their wearer avoid inhaling harmful particulate matter in the smoke and ash. Residents with respiratory conditions like asthma, older adults, and those who must be outdoors for long periods are encouraged to come by and pick up a free mask for themselves or family and friends.

  6. Edward Vielmetti

    LA Times on the origin of the fire:,0,4914192.story
    Bonfire built by students caused Montecito fire, sheriff says
    The suspects say they thought the fire had gone out when they left the ridge-top site Thursday morning. The D.A.’s office will decide if they will be charged with any crimes.
    By Catherine Saillant and Jean Merl
    November 19, 2008
    Reporting from Los Angeles and Montecito — A smoldering bonfire built by students on a ridge-top overlooking Montecito apparently sparked last week’s disastrous Tea fire, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday.

  7. Edward Vielmetti

    more on the fire starting from the Independent:
    At a 4 p.m. press conference, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced that as a result of an anonymous tip, investigators were able to identify ten young adults as those responsible for the cause of the Tea Fire. Brown described them as between the ages of 18 and 22, area residents, and a mixture of males and females. Brown also described them as all coming from one school and being cooperative with investigators.


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