Jesusita Fire

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Jesusita Fire
Jesusita Fire, May 7, 2009, climbing the Santa Ynez Mountains behind Santa Barbara.
Location Santa Barbara, California, United States
Date(s) May 5, 2009 - May 18, 2009
Burned area 8,733 acres (35 km2)
Cause Sparks off of trail clearing equipment
Land use Residential; Open space
Injuries 28
Satellite image of the Jesusita Fire burn scar on May 10, 2009, taken from the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite . Image shows the northern part of the burned area, which stretches from the outskirts of Santa Barbara (hidden beneath clouds) into the Los Padres National Forest.

The Jesusita Fire was a wildfire that began at approximately 1:45 PM on May 5, 2009 in the hills of Santa Barbara, California. The fire burned 8,733 acres (35.34 km2), destroyed 80 homes and damaged 15 more before being 100% contained.[1]

On May 8, 2009, the fire perimeter extended from west of Highway 154, in the hills burned in the 1990 Painted Cave Fire, across the front country of the Santa Ynez Mountains east through Mission Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon, and into the hills above Montecito, reaching the area burned by the Goleta Gap Fire in July 2008 and the Montecito Tea Fire in November 2008. Intense sundowner winds caused the fire to spread rapidly during evening and nighttime hours during its first three days.


Investigation determined that power weed-trimmers being used by two men to clear a mountain-bike trail emitted sparks that started the fire, which fully ignited only after the men had left the area. In June 2010 they pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of failing to have a shovel or fire extinguisher on hand while performing work capable of starting a fire, and were sentenced to community service.[2]

In July 2011, 60 of the owners of homes destroyed by the fire filed a civil lawsuit against Stihl Incorporated, the manufacturer of the brush-cutting equipment, alleging that Stihl failed to warn users that the metal blades of the cutter could emit sparks capable of starting a fire in a high-risk area. In July 2013 Stihl agreed to settle the claims for an undisclosed amount of money.[3]



All mandatory evacuation orders connected with the fire were lifted as of May 13, 2009.[1] As of May 9, 2009, approximately 5,894 properties were under mandatory evacuation orders, affecting an estimated 14,735 people. In addition, more than 17,787 properties were under evacuation warning, affecting an estimated 44,467 people. Red Cross had shelters for evacuees at the Multi-Activity Court at the UCSB Recreational Center. From May 5 to May 9, 2009, evacuees were also sheltered at San Marcos High School in Goleta.


As of May 11, 2009, there were 28 injuries.[4]

Destruction of property[edit]

Much of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden was destroyed on the night of May 7.[5]

The current cost of the fire is estimated at $20 million.

In popular culture[edit]

The song Jesusita off the 2011 album Death of a Decade by Ha Ha Tonka is about the Jesusita Fire.


External links[edit]

Jesusita Fire near Santa Barbara, California

Coordinates: 34°27′00″N 119°43′01″W / 34.45°N 119.717°W / 34.45; -119.717