Campgrounds are open but open fires are banned along Paradise Road in the Santa Ynez Valley. The area had a wall of fire last month burning from the edge of the dry river bed into the wilderness.
It’s nearly contained, but over 30,000 acres were destroyed. Firefighters remain on the lines to make sure all hot spots are out.
The Labor Day weekend was still very popular with campers who were using propane stoves instead of open fires in pits.
“Normally having a fire is nice, the marshmallows and the roasting. We didn’t miss it that much,” said camper Karen Blakeman. “It would have been nice but you play cards more and hang around the picnic table compared to hanging around the fire. “
The Paradise campground was sold out. Oregon resident John Panlener chose it over a beach spot in Carpinteria. “Oh it was packed this weekend. Everybody was here, a lot of groups. And camping without a fire, it worked. You can still camp without a fire.”
Those who know the area and knew about the recent fire said they were on alert.
“Anytime you hear a fire truck around here you go, ‘ok what is going on?’ There is a certain noise to those (Forest Service) trucks make. They are constantly going back and forth,” said Blakeman.
A San Fernando Valley man and his friends wanted to have a big fire in a pit and do some fishing. But the fire ban and the lack of water took those activities off the agenda.
Martin Villafana said, “I hope next year is better than this year.” He went on to say he liked the location and planned to come back.