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Los Padres National Forest Increases Fire Staffing During Red Flag Warning

Los Padres National Forest is ramping up its fire safety efforts in the midst of red flag warnings in the mountain regions of Santa Barbara County. Crews are staying vigilant with winds expected to last into the night through Thursday.

Winds started kicking up late Tuesday afternoon in the Los Padres National Forest. Those winds and the hot, dry conditions that prompted red flag warnings have rangers worried.

Burnt trees and hillsides from last year’s White Fire still serve as reminders of the land’s natural tendency to ignite. Los Padres will up their staffing to 24 hours a day for the next few days and they’ll also have some outside help.

“We have a crew in from Utah, the Department of Natural Resources crew has been here for about the last 4 or 5 days,” said Mark Vontillow, Division Chief. “Also the Del Rosa Hotshots rolled in from the San Bernardino National Forest to help support and augment staffing.”

That allows 9 engines and 3 patrols to work 24 hours a day. Additional crews will work until midnight.

“It’s nice to have the most amount of resources that we can get,” said Vontillow. “Really it’s not just us, the Forest Service. It’s also the county, the city, CAL FIRE, everybody coming together with a plan so we’re ready if something happens.”

Rangers are making sure no campers start campfires in the forest. But down at the Lake Cachuma campground, fires were still fair game.

Campers Louie and Gail Garcia are spending the week camping near Cachuma, but they have no plans of roasting s’mores come nightfall.

“We just know that everything is so dry that we just decided lets play it safe,” said Gail Garcia. “We didn’t bring firewood. And it’s a little windy too so we’re just going to be kind of smart about it.”

Los Padres National Forest expects to keep this level of staffing through Thursday.

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