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La Brea Fire Update Saturday, August 15, 2009

Acres Burned: 75,000 * Personnel: 1,900 * Containment: 25%
Resources: Engines: 108 Crews: 59 Dozers: 25 Water Tenders: 38 Helicopters: 14 Fixed Wing: 5

** For more Information: www.inciweb.org or call (805) 961-5770 from 6am-10pm **

On day eight of the La Brea Fire, fire managers are feeling cautiously optimistic. The fire is now 25% contained after long days of fire line construction and burning operations in several geographical areas along the fire perimeter. This is significant considering the rapid growth of the fire and the recent history of fire events on the Los Padres National Forest. Hard work and long hours by firefighters utilizing aircraft, bulldozers, engines, and handcrews is paying off. This type of progress is difficult without a significant favorable change in weather conditions or without the fire behavior becoming less menacing and easier to manage. In the past 24 hours, the fire behavior has continued to be aggressive, but due to the hard work of the men and women on the fireline, good progress has been made. Firefighters continue to battle not only the fire, but the elements, fatigue, and challenging terrain to gain the upper hand on the La Brea Fire.

Current Situation: A major effort to improve existing containment perimeter using dozers and burning out remaining brush will be made today. This should close the gaps that exist on the west side. Substantial progress has been made from the northwest area beginning at Buckhorn Canyon, running southeast to Horse Canyon. The majority of this line is in and holding. Fire engines remain in place along Tepusquet Road to protect structures if the fire should jump the fuel break. The north line will be improved and mopped up today as crews work to hold the fireline along the Treplett fuel break. The completion of the Schoolhouse Canyon dozer line is a high priority on the east end up to Sierra Madre Ridge Road and should be finished today. The challenge remains on the southeast portion of the burn in the San Rafael Wilderness because of the lack of acceptable ridgelines or solid points to build containment line.

Weather: Today’s temperatures will be 88-98 degrees in low areas and 80-88 on the ridge tops. Ridge top winds will be northeasterly 10-18 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Humidities will range from the mid-teens to low twenties.

Evacuations:
• Effective at 12:00 p.m., Thursday, August 13, an Evacuation Order was issued for all of Tepusquet Canyon, from Santa Maria Mesa Road to Highway 166, all of Colson and Ruiz Canyons, and the Blazing Saddles community.
• At 4:00 a.m., Thursday, August 13, an Evacuation Order was issued for Pine and Buckhorn Canyons, along Forest Roads 11N04 and 11N05, affecting 10 residences.
• Effective since 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 11, an Evacuation Order was issued for the following areas: Western Boundary: Sierra Madre Road; Southern Boundary: Cottonwood Road; Eastern Boundary: Highway 166; Northern Boundary: Spoor Canyon. This area includes Moon and Eckert Canyons.
• An Evacuation Warning exists for areas bound by Cottonwood Road and Wasioja Road, and between Highway 166 and Sierra Madre Road.

Fire Investigation Tip Line: If you have any information regarding the La Brea Fire, please contact Forest Service Fire Investigators at 805-686-5074.

Caution: Due to emergency vehicle traffic and congestion on Highway 166, the public is urged to seek an alternate route and to use extra caution when traveling the highway.

Closures: An emergency closure order is in effect for portions of the Los Padres National Forest in and around the fire.