Zaca Fire Left its Mark on Santa Barbara County & the History Books

One of the largest fires in California’s history began on July 4th, 2007. Officials determined sparks ignited the blaze – not from fireworks, but from a grinder used by two men working to fix a pipe.
The Zaca Fire became the largest fire in Santa Barbara County history.

It took almost three months to contained and burned more than 240,000 acres, making it California’s second largest fire at the time (it now ranks number 4 on the list.) The cost more than 118 million dollars to fight, a price that would have certainly gone up had it not burned away from population centers into rugged areas of the San Rafael Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest. It destroyed only one building, a Forest Service outbuilding.  No fatalities resulted from the fire, but two pilots were injured when their Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter crashed.  According to the Santa Barbara Independent the helicopter was working out of the Figueroa Helibase on Figuera Mountain Road. The accident occurred while the helicopter was lifting off from the helibase.

As for the two men charged with starting the fire, the five felony counts against them were eventually dropped; their actions didn’t add up to recklessness, which all counts alleged.

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The Zaca Fire: Bridging Fire Science and Management

Shawn Boyd

Shawn Boyd joined Cal OES as a public information officer in 2014 after a 20-year career in television news as a reporter, anchor and executive producer. He's a Cal State Sacramento alum and former US Navy yeoman and Air Force brat.

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