UPDATE: Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara

Jesusita Fire burns 8,600 acres
Santa Barbara, Calif. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jesusita Fire Information - Click here
Interactive map: Santa Barbara 'Jesusita' Fire
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Winds continue to be a major problem on Friday for firefighters battling the out-of-control Jesusita Fire. Flames have forced 30,500 people to evacuate.

Fire officials said the wildfire has damaged or destroyed 80 homes, and admit the number will probably go up.

"That 75 number was late last night. I personally was up in the foothills until about 2 o'clock, and saw a couple more structures that were involved," said Capt. Mike DePonce, Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Winds gusted up to 50 miles per hour at times as plumes of smoke covered most of Santa Barbara County.

"There's a lot of dead fuel up there, so even when the wind isn't on this fuel, it's burning pretty handily, so when the wind's not on it, it's slope-driven, terrain-driven, and it's taking off," said Chief Tom Franklin, Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Officials said 11 firefighters have been injured.

The fire is at 10 percent containment, and about 8,600 acres have been scorched. The estimated cost of fighting the fire, so far, is $3.2 million.

The /*Jesusita Fire*/ is burning in extremely rugged terrain, with brush that is very dry for the time of the year.

Another factor is the access to where the fire is burning. The fire is high up in some places, and the roads are very narrow, making it difficult for fire engines to get in these areas.

On Thursday, the fire burned up to the old border line of the Tea Fire from six months ago, which helped firefighters, but the flames again shifted direction.

When the flames kicked up on Thursday night, authorities expanded evacuation orders. Police more than doubled the number of evacuees overnight: 30,500 have been forced from their homes, and another 29,000 under evacuation warning may be next.

The evacuation order affects 12,204 homes and businesses.

The evacuation center in Goleta was filled up to capacity, and all 200 beds at Dos Pueblos High School are accounted for. Some people are sleeping in their cars, and there are RVs parked in the parking lot.

Evacuee Michael Lampkin said he had friends staying at his house when they were evacuated, but on Thursday night, it was his turn to evacuate.

"They were sitting up all night, and they were telling how emotionally draining it was to them, and I couldn't really relate to it. And so the following night, the same things happened to us, and so you're sitting there fretting, thinking about all your valuables, and then you're thinking about your neighbors," Lampkin said. "It's a big inconvenience."

The /*Red Cross*/ opened up a second evacuation center at /*UC Santa Barbara*/ that has 900 cots, but 600 had already been filled by Friday afternoon.

The additional evacuation shelter at UC Santa Barbara is at the Recreation Center (RecCen) on Mesa Road and Ocean Drive. Residents can take Highway 217 to the campus and follow the emergency shelter signs.

The Red Cross hooked up TVs at the evacuation center so that evacuees can watch live news coverage of the fire.

Police are also briefing them twice a day, and food, drinks and insurance agents are on hand.

Residents with large animals can still go to the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The Santa Barbara Humane Society at Overpass Road and Patterson Avenue is no longer taking small animals. For more information on animal evacuations, call the Animal Services Hotline at (805) 682-4332. People who are physically unable to evacuate on their own can call the Jesusita Fire Call Center at (805) 681-5197.

Some people have defied the orders and stayed behind to soak their property with garden hoses, while others packed up their photos and personal belongings and headed for the evacuation center even before police said it was time to go.

"We just couldn't believe what was happening. It seemed OK," said evacuee Ann Yacobian.

"Then all of a sudden, as Gloria said, it was like the whole mountain was on fire, very scary, so decided, you know, we better get out," she said.

Residents who need help evacuating can call the county information line at (805) 681-5197.

Some hotels in the area are offering discounts to evacuees, including Hyatt Westlake Plaza with rooms for $99. For more information, visit the Web site for the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau page.

Firefighters from across California are moving in to help battle flames, including firefighters from Orange County.

Dozens of firefighters outside Station 61 in Buena Park geared and marked their trucks during the night, and close to a dozen vehicles headed up north to lend a hand.

Strike teams from Laguna Beach and Anaheim are already in Santa Barbara.

Three firefighters from Ventura County Fire were injured on Wednesday night and airlifted to the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.

The firefighters were trying to protect a home when they were overwhelmed by the fire.

Capt. Bulger was released today from Grossman at approximately 8 a.m. Friday.

Captain Ron Topolinski had surgery Friday morning. He suffered 2nd degree burns. He will not need skin grafting and he is expected to be released some time over the weekend.

Firefighter Robert Lopez also had surgery Friday morning. He has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his head, shoulders, and arms. Doctors will determine early next week if he will need more surgery. He is expected to be in hospital for at

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Stay with ABC30 and ABC30.com for the latest information on the Jesusita Fire.

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