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November 19, 2008

Wildfire in Santa Barbara Caused By Bonfire

A group of college students who decided to have a bonfire apparently started this horrible catastrophe. A tip came in that ten college students between 18 and 22 were having a gathering. The fire raged and consumed nearly 2,000 acres in Santa Barbara County. One couple was burnt after trying to escape the flames from their home. The perpetrators apparently left the bonfire burning and the wind ignited the flames. The students have been hanging out at a section of town called the “tea garden” in the Montecito Hills. This was just one of three fires that destroyed 1,000 homes.

With the Santa Ana winds in California, it makes it very difficult for fire fighters to battle blazes. However, the winds died down recently helping the crews to douse the flames. The fires were apparently 70-75 percent contained in Orange County and the San Fernando Valley. People were allowed to collect any items that escaped the flames and grief counselors were on hand to help the victims. It is hard to imagine such devastation and for some people losing everything can just be devastating. President Bush declared a disaster declaration and immediately freed aid for California.

Television star turned governor Arnold Swarznegger did his part by canceling any fees on lost documents like birth certificates and sped up the process for those who needed unemployment insurance because of lost jobs due to the fire. The state is indeed suffering having spent a whopping $305 million on firefighting since July. This is also adding to their deficit, which now sits at 11.2 billion. Last years wildfires cost the state 518 million the most in the states history. The government is stepping in to try to give the state some funds but funds are being drained.

There have been no arrests in this latest fire chaos. There was an arrest in the July fires. Those fires burned 9,500 acres of Forest Land. A sixteen year old has been charged with starting the fire. There seems to be an alarming trend either here in young people who are purposely setting these fires or just being completely irresponsible and careless. It begs the question. What is wrong with our youth today? Young people are destroying the world around them for themselves and for future generations with no regard or remorse.

It is not just ordinary people involved in these catastrophes. Stars like Rob Lowe, Jeff Bridges and Oprah Winfrey are involved. Oprah actually owns a 42-acre estate in the region. Rob Lowe explained how he escaped with his family and helped another family to escape. He is a star and a hero! Rob was obviously shaken saying, “It was like Armageddon! He is not the only one with those thoughts. There were those that were lucky and their homes were spared. However, most grabbed their pets and children and ran! They left what they knew as their lives behind to be swallowed up by the flames.

This quiet community filled with stars has really suffered. It begs the question, Will they be able to rebuild and re-coup.

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