Here we go again! We’re watching a fast moving wildfire named the Rey Fire, apparently because it started near Rancho San Fernando Rey (here on gMaps). I might post a few pix here occasionally until it’s knocked down.
Update 11:15am 8/22:
Mixed news. This latest IR Reflectivity sat shows a new hotspot (white dot toward the right), but our Rey Fire is cooler so far today and the other regional fires are too. A few hours may tell us how this day will unfold.
Update 11:45pm 8/21:
Cool! That’s what the IR sat is telling us tonight. So cool in fact that the 11pm InfraRed Reflectivity shows no distinguishable reading for the Rey fire. The non-reflective IR shows a dim dot, so here’s that for comparison with today and last night.
There’s still smoke showing on some satellites, so probably lots of smouldering but nothing big and not hot enough to register on the low-res sat that’s updated every half hour. I’m also happy to see the Chimney and Cedar fires cooler, though the latter split in two probably making it harder to fight.
Here’s another composite color view (see below for comparison and Legend) showing two different IR satellites with no accurate time, but less than 12 hours old. Comparing the two you can see how far the fire spread East (the small blue squiggle is Gibraltar Res.).
Last up for now is this 8/21 color visible satellite image with IR readings from another satellite superimposed. This one’s interesting to me mostly in terms of how the smoke looks, but otherwise not worth much because the time is all but impossible to determine. My guess is it was mid to late afternoon because the cloud shadows are about 45 degrees angled on the ground. That one red dot to the right of the fire is probably a spurious detection because there’s no smoke from it.
Update 3pm 8/21:
Forgot to post this update on the frequently updated but low-res IR sat from 21:30 GMT showing how much the heat signature had enlarged by 2:30pm local time. Scroll down to compare with earlier versions of this same view, and you can see how much it’s expanded to the East relative to the SB County line to the right and Santa Cruz Island below the main hotspot. That corresponds with the shift toward the East in the location of the smoke plume we’re seeing beyond the ridge.
Update 2:30pm 8/21:
Looks like the East flank of the fire has flared today as the fire crew had predicted.
This monster smoke plume leapt far above the 3,500′ ridge line, upsetting many Santa Barbarians. Luckily it’s burning in an unpopulated area, so maybe that’s why I was able to see it as a fluffy white poodle shape. I was also reassured by the steady stream of big fire attack planes we could glimpse beyond that ridge as they went in for a drop, like this C-130.
Adding to the aerial entertainment was a flight of two Marine helicopters passing low overhead, probably returning to a SoCA base from weekend exercises (and maybe InfraRed fire spotting) in the Paso Robles area.
I hadn’t noticed before that SBC Fire posted a fire perimeter map at 8am based on this earlier survey from before sunrise.
About 1pm I did a screen capture on the free Avare (Android) & $2.50 HIZ ADSB apps on my phone to check out air traffic over the fire and it’s as thick today as what we saw from Cam.Cielo yesterday evening. Wish I’d thought to bring the little $7 SDR up there when we went. Anyway, here’s a cropped and downsized version of that screencap.
The blue dots of course are aircraft with blue line showing direction of flight, length showing speed, and the white text in gray showing altitude. The red polygon is the “TFR” airspace restricted to fire air attack traffic, though of course they’re shuttling back and forth to SMX at the top-left to reload fire retardant. At some points there were a dozen or more aircraft showing in the vicinity of the TFR.
Update 1am 8/21:
Here’s a last look at the InfraRed heat detection satellite, showing how much things have cooled down overnight. Hopefully tomorrow it won’t flare again.
Update 11:50pm 8/20:
Here are a few more pix from our drive up to the ridge line at about 5:30 8/20.
That noble white dot above the ridge toward the right edge is a helicopter (Chinook type) with a water bucket apparently headed to Gibraltar Reservoir to fill up. In the background is the line of backfires lit on this Eastern edge to expand the containment on that flank.
Those towering flames in the far distance in this extreme zoom shot are making lots of heat, and that’s what lofted the smoke very high to create the plume that freaked people out in Santa Barbara as it seemed to tower over our closer mountains and even SB itself. Last in this update is an ominous backdrop for the DC-10 (Tanker 911) that passed on the way to drop over at the West side of the fire.
Update 6pm 8/20:
We weren’t getting any info on whether the fire had started spreading East, so we took the short drive up to the Camino Ceilo road along the ridge for a look. Here’s what we saw at about 5:20pm.
The prevailing winds have been to the West, so this apocalyptic view was no surprise. Driving further we got this look at the East flank of the fire.
Talking to some of the small crowd that had gathered up there we learned that this East flank is a deliberately-set backfire to improve the containment while winds are favorable. You can actually see a line of flames near the bottom edge toward the left. While there we also saw the swarm of aircraft and helicopters working the fire, and we passed many fire vehicles along the way. We’re so glad to have driven up for a look, and hopefully some others who’d worried about the massive new smoke plume will find this and get some reassurance we can sleep safely in SB tonight.
Update 4pm 8/20:
Here’s a screencap of the InfraRed Reflectivity satellite image from 3pm, showing how large the Rey’s actively burning area is in comparison with the other major SoCA fires. The nasty Blue Cut Fire that was in the national news recently is all but out, and is indistinguishable from background variations on this satellite. This one is low resolution, but is updated online every half hour or so. It provides a good way of seeing what the fire’s doing at night. Last night for example, it was a small gray dot indicating not much open flame.
Update 3:50pm 8/20:
Here’s a screencap of the satellite composite map showing heat detections by two different satellites, mapped online as of now. The small red dot farthest to the right (East) is about five miles North of the Gibraltar Dam (blue squiggle below it) and coincides approximately with one of the green C-130 firefighting aircraft’s tracks in the earlier update below.
Update 3:40pm 8/20:
The only aircraft showing up on ADS-B tracking is the C-130 converted military cargo plane that’s ferrying massive loads of fire retardant to the fire from the air attack base in SMX (Santa Maria airport). Here’s a screen capture from 3:20pm 8/20 showing how it’s done so many trips the thin track lines have painted the aviation Sectional map green.
At the bottom of this post are some pix we shot about 5:30pm Thursday including one I’ve added since first posting this, but first here are some from about 7:30pm after the sun had gone behind the mountains but was still lighting the smoke plume.
In the dusk you can make out the community of Painted Cave, namesake of the scary 1990 fire that burned from the mountain peaks down to the sea in a few hours. Seeing smoke there is a nightmare for the people living up there of course, but pretty much freaks out everyone in town too. Here’s a wider view showing how close the fire was to them as sunset approached.
Last up, here’s a composite image of infrared satellite images from 7:30 & 10:30pm showing how the fire (white square) has died down as of this posting at 11:15pm Thursday local time.
Here’s another example of the “white puff” we saw when there had apparently been a well-placed fire retardant drop from an aircraft. We’d see a small plume of white smoke at the base of the large orange main plume, then the main plume would gradually die down before rising again a little less than an hour later. This is the last pic we got in the first set.
The low level winds in Santa Ynez Valley are 12mph from the West, yet the upper level winds are toward the West (the left side of these pix looking North).
The notch in the ridge line above is just to the East (right) of the Painted Cave community, and in it you can see white smoke that appeared suddenly after a 5:40pm aircraft fire retardant drop. The plume shrank to almost nothing after that, but rose to almost this size again by 40 minutes later. As I type this at 6:40 it has shrunk to a small dome again. Once darkness falls and the aircraft are grounded, fire crews are probably going to face a long and difficult fight overnight.