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UPDATE: Bulldozers and helicopters keeping Alisal Fire from iconic Reagan Ranch

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Alisal Fire is between a quarter mile and a half mile away from the iconic Reagan Ranch in the mountains high above Refugio.

Rancho del Cielo sits at the top of the Santa Ynez mountain range. Pictures of the massive plume sent in to the NewsChannel 3-12 newsroom are both spectacular and ominous from that vantage point. 

"We've had fires that have threatened the ranch before, mostly Sherpa in 2016, but this is by far the biggest threat we've faced and biggest threat since the 1955 Refugio Fire," said Andrew Coffin, Vice President of Young America's Foundation and Director of the Reagan Ranch.

Andrew Coffin (lft) on Reagan Ranch property as the Alisal Fire rages behind

Coffin talked to NewsChannel 3-12 again Thursday. He said days of "incredible" work by bulldozer operators and water-dropping helicopter pilots have helped keep the flames away from the property. There are a lot of resources protecting what's also known as the "Western White House" during President Ronald Reagan's years, safe.

Coffin said there are two lakes on the property and staff regularly tests and preps for fire and other emergencies within the 688 acre ranch property.

Water-dropping helicopter (Andrew Coffin)

The Young America's Foundation is keeping the public informed through daily updates posted on its website:

As of Thursday morning, the fire has not advanced in any substantial way towards the Reagan Ranch. That is welcome news.

There are some inaccurate media reports noting that the Reagan Ranch has been evacuated.  The surrounding area is under evacuation orders but several YAF staff members, including Reagan Ranch Director Andrew Coffin, remain on site and are actively engaged with fire personnel who are aware of our staff’s presence at Rancho del Cielo. 

The fire grew to more than 15,000 acres on Wednesday and remains at about 5% containment. A federal Type 1 incident management team took over control of the firefighting effort on Wednesday evening.

Around 1,200 firefighters are now assigned to battle the blaze. Helicopters continue to utilize Freedom Lake at Rancho del Cielo to fill up with water to fight the fire throughout the area. 

Another crew was stationed with an engine by the main ranch adobe home again last night.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

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