La Brea Fire

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La Brea Fire
Plume from the La Brea Fire on August 15
Location Santa Barbara, California
Coordinates 34°57′00″N 119°58′41″W / 34.95°N 119.978°W / 34.95; -119.978Coordinates: 34°57′00″N 119°58′41″W / 34.95°N 119.978°W / 34.95; -119.978
Date(s) August 8, 2009 (2009-08-08) – August 22, 2009 (2009-08-22)
Burned area 89,489 acres (362 km2)
Cause A cooking fire at a marijuana drug trafficking operation.
La Brea Fire is located in southern California
La Brea Fire

The La Brea Fire was a 2009 wildfire which occurred in Southern California in the United States. The fire began near La Brea Creek in Santa Barbara County, in the Los Padres National Forest.[3] The fire burned 89,489 acres (140 sq mi; 362 km2) of chaparral between August 8 and August 22, 2009, but only destroyed two structures—a cabin and an unused ranger station.[2] The huge Zaca Fire burned in the same region in 2007, and some of the same fire lines were used to contain the La Brea Fire.[4]

A propane stove at an illegal marijuana plantation inside the National Forest is believed to have ignited the fire. The plantation held approximately 30,000 marijuana plants, worth an estimated US$90 million. Prior to the blaze, seventeen other plantations hidden in the forest had been discovered by authorities, who destroyed more than 225,000 plants worth over US$675 million. No suspects were captured at the site, but investigators did find an AK-47 assault rifle, and warned the public that the suspects could be armed and dangerous.[5]

Progression of the La Brea Fire through August 20, along with outlines of the Zaca Fire (2007) and Wellman Fire (1966).


  1. ^ "La Brea Fire". CAL FIRE. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b "La Brea Fire". InciWeb. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  3. ^ Womack, Sam. (August 17, 2009). "Crews work into the night to corral wildfire". Santa Maria Times. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  4. ^ "La Brea Fire Contained". Santa Barbara Independent. August 23, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  5. ^ "La Brea Fire believed to be caused by $90 million marijuana operation run by Mexican drug cartel". KSBY-TV (NBC Channel 6). August 19, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2009.