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Sherpa Fire Burns More Than 6,000 Acres in Santa Barbara County So Far

Flames have fast multiplied in the Santa Barbara, California, Sherpa Fire that started Wednesday, leading to mandatory evacuations in some areas, as more than 6,000 acres had burned as of late Friday night.

The County of Santa Barbara (COSB) estimated acres burned in the fire at 6,321, with 20 percent contained. The County warned of a “continued threat to structures, agriculture crops, state parks, and critical infrastructure: communication sites, power lines, rail and Hwy 101.”

Under command of the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and Santa Barbara County Fire, 1,230 personnel are involved in fighting this fire. One firefighter had suffered a minor injury as of the late Friday update. Fire behavior has been worse some nights due to occasional extreme wind-driven runs that cause the fire to be erratic.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Friday that while conditions appear better in the day, the situation can and does change at night, according to the Los Angeles Times. A spokeswoman for a team of agencies fighting the fire said Friday that the fire moves northeast by day and is expected to continue to grow southeast by night. Temperatures are expected to rise into the 80s over the weekend.

The fire originated off of Refugio Road around 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday. An investigation has been launched into what started the fire. Seven people had been taken into Wake Center, one of three shelters, as of Friday night. One small water treatment building burned near El Capitan State Beach, according to the COSB Friday update. Avocado, lemon, and olive crops have been damaged, as well as ranch land. Santa Barbara County’s agriculture industry is the largest in the county at $1.48 billion. The extent of the damages is still uncertain.

The county established a helpline email for farmers and ranchers impacted by the blaze: sherpaag@co.santa-barbara.ca.us.

“If you are a farmer or rancher and you believe your crops or livestock will be impacted by the Sherpa Fire we stand ready to assist,” said County Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Fisher in a statement released on Friday. “Agriculture is the number one industry in the County. We want to help minimize potential losses from this challenging event.”

Updates on the fire may be found at the County of Santa Barbara website.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.

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