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Fire evacuees extend their stays at Santa Barbara hotels

Abel family members
Tracy Lehr / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - When the Abel family of Santa Cruz County checked into the Hyatt Hotel on Orilla Del Mar Drive in Santa Barbara they found it funny to be placed in the Santa Cruz building of the hotel, but they don't find their evacuee status funny.

They had planned to visit family in the area before their three sons returned to school online on Monday, but ended up packing their valuables in all three of their cars.

They drove two of their cars to Santa Barbara and parked another away from the fire lines.

They live in Scotts Valley near Santa Cruz and are worried about their home.

John Abel called leaving home "surreal."

"The things that go through your head, like propane tanks, like where do I put those."

He said he found a helpful checklist at

His son Gavin said, "It is pretty freaky, everything feels very out of the norm, this has never happened to us before, it is just weird."

Wendy Abel said Gavin and their twin sons were supposed to start school online due to the pandemic on Monday.

Scotts Valley schools postponed the start of classes for at least a week.

The Pacific Crest Hotel around the corner welcomed evacuees last week and over the weekend.

The owners said most of their evacuee guests checked out already.

Many said they came to Santa Barbara to get away from the smoke.

An Orange County firefighter staying with his dog at the original Motel 6 next door said it is important to get out of smoke if you can. He happened to be visiting his daughter at Santa Barbara City College.

Other hotels including Pea Soup Anderson's Inn in Buellton, and La Bellasera Hotel & Suites in Paso Robles also welcomed guests escaping dozens of large wildfires caused by lightning strikes in Northern California.

Some hotels said they were offering discounts to evacuees on a case by case basis but not advertising it online.

Coronavirus / Health / Money and Business / Santa Barbara- S County / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County

Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.

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