The Latest: California fire grows and worst may be coming

Motorists on Highway 101 watch flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura on Wednesday.

AP Photo, Noah Berger

Voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for areas in and near the city of Carpinteria by the Santa Barbaa County Sheriff’s Office as the wind-driven Thomas fire nears the county line.

The Sheriff’s Office issued the evacuation warnings at the advice of the Thomas fire incident commander, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Flames from the Thomas fire were within half a mile of the Santa Barbara County line by 1 a.m. Thursday and moving fast toward the north, and areas that had been issued an evacuation warning about four hours earlier were placed under mandatory evacuation orders.

By 1:15 a.m., firefighters reported the fire had burned into a refinery near La Conchita and was within 10 yards of homes in that community, where a mandatory evacuation was already underway.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued for people living in the rural areas along Highway 150, who were advised to use that highway to Highway 192 to avoid congestion on Highway 101.

Sheriff’s and fire officials were preparing to evacuate the Bates Road and Rincon Hill areas, which along with the area south of Highway 101 to the coast and east of Dump Road, had been placed under an evacuation warning about about 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Areas still under voluntary evacuation at 1:30 a.m. include:

• All areas from the 5500 block of Casitas Pass Road, Highway 192, east to the county line to include Lillingston Canyon and Cate Mesa and all addresses north to the county line; and,

• All addresses along the east side of Bailard Avenue from Highway 101;

A voluntary evacuation warning means a potential threat to life and property exists from the fire, but it does not generally require leaving immediately, the spokesman said, although those with large animals to evacuate and people with access and functional needs were advised to leave immediately..

People in the evacuation warning area should prepare to leave immediately if a mandatory evacuation order is issued, the spokesman added.

An evacuation shelter was opened at the UCSB Multi Activity Center at 516 Ocean Road.

Evacuees were advised to take Exit 104B to Highway 217, then at the roundabout take the first right onto Mesa Road, then left on Ocean Road to enter the university and park in Lot 16, where staff will guide them to the center.

Animal Evacuations: Those needing assistance evacuating large animals, livestock and small pets were advised to call the Santa Barbara County Animal Services hotline at 866-387-8911.

The sheriff’s spokesman said it is critical that Santa Barbara County residents register to receive emergency alerts by visiting www.AwareAndPrepare.org.

For ongoing updates on the Thomas fire, go to www.CountyofSB.org, follow @countyofsb on Twitter and FaceBook, or call 211 from the 805 area code.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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