A fire truck at the Sherpa Fire in Santa Barbara. Courtesy CalFire
A fire truck at the Sherpa Fire in Santa Barbara. Courtesy CalFire

Firefighters battling the Sherpa Fire for a sixth day near Goleta got a break overnight when winds from the north pushed the flames into previously burned areas, U.S. Forest Service officials said Monday.

The Forest Service said at 8 a.m. the fire was now 54 percent contained and the number of acres burned has remained at 7,893 acres. Some 1,926 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and Santa Barbara County Fire remain at work, officials said.

The fire sent smoke over large sections of Los Angeles County last week.

Usually, when fighting brushfires, firefighters try to hold their fire lines during the day and extend containment during the night hours when humidity rises and wind and temperatures drop, Nancy Arkin of the Forest Service said. But the Sherpa firefighting effort has been the opposite, with lower humidity and Sundowner winds propelling the blaze after dark.

With temperatures today forecast to be even hotter and drier than Sunday, there was a high potential for active fire, officials said.     Firefighters planned to continue to build and reinforce containment lines along the north and east sides of the fire and along the Camino Cielo Ridge, officials said.

A red flag warning was scheduled to remain in effect through 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Forest Service and Joint Information Center.

Five firefighters have suffered injuries, 270 structures are still threatened by the blaze and one small water treatment building at El Capitan state beach has burned. There are no new evacuations.

The 101 Freeway remained open this morning, but a potential for closures does exist, the Forest Service said. There was one road closure on Calle Real that stretched from El Capitan to Refugio Road at Cathedral Oaks, the Forest Service reported.

Southern California Edison reported that 19 customers near El Capitan Canyon lost power and it will likely not be restored until Tuesday.

An estimated containment date is midnight Thursday, according to the Incident Information System.

The raging blaze — feeding off brush and tall grass chaparral and amplified by high winds — was first reported off Refugio Road at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.

AQMD officials urged people in areas affected by smoke to avoid vigorous activity. People with respiratory or heart ailments, older adults and children should remain indoors, and residents should keep doors and windows closed, AQMD officials said.

Residents were also urged to run air conditioners with the fresh-air intake closed, and avoid using swamp coolers or whole-house fans.

Santa Barbara County has established an email helpline for farmers and ranchers impacted by the Sherpa Fire at sherpaag@co.santa-barbara.ca.us that connects people with the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

“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,” County Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Fisher said. “We want to help minimize potential losses from this challenging event.”

—City News Service

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