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Fire officials warn of bonfire dangers

A fire burned half an acre in Summerland and fire officials said it was sparked by a bonfire. Now they’re warning of the dangers of the beach-side traditions.

In Santa Barbara County, bonfires at the beach aren’t allowed. Many people walking on the beach near Summerland didn’t know roasting some s’mores on the sand is illegal.

“I would definitely guess that it would be illegal here because there are fires all the time. I don’t know, seems like common sense,” said Kayla Harlin.

Common sense or not, bonfires are not uncommon along the beach. There’s evidence left behind of recent bonfires in Summerland, including blackened pieces of wood and ash.

“They’re not allowed, there’s not approved containment there and you can’t have open fires on the beach in this county,” said Fire Chief Mike Mingee of the Carpinteria Summerland Fire District.

Just south of Lookout Park on Finney Road, a bonfire got out of control.

“I’m sure their intent was not to start a fire, they just don’t think about those type of things but you have to be smart this year, you have to be smart any time during the summer about use of fire because one spark can light a whole hillside up which is what happened Saturday night,” said Mingee.

The fire was lit close to the hillside and around 9 p.m., it spread through the dry brush.

Firefighters contained the blaze and no structures were damaged and no one was injured.

“I think that it’s way too risky and dangerous to have a bonfire. Within a campfire to barbecue or with permission, but I don’t think it should be loose like that,” said Tracy Conway.

Mingee knows summertime means outdoor activities but wants to warn people to be extra cautious.

“The basic rule here and anywhere in Southern California right now is no open flames, no fires,” he said.


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