November 14, 2008

Fire Threatens Wealthy Calif. Area

Residents of a wealthy neighborhood near Santa Barbara, Calif., had to flee their homes late Thursday as a wind-whipped brushfire headed their way.

The Cold Springs area in Montecito, where the fire was reported about 6 p.m., is home to many entertainers and others who can afford its large houses, the Los Angeles Times reported. Later in the evening, the flames spread west toward Santa Barbara with winds of 60 mph to 70 mph at their back.

Ken Kimball, a resident of Montecito, drafted his three sons and workers from his mechanic business to water down his house.

"I've got good fire insurance," he told the Times when asked if he was concerned about the fire.

Geri Ventura of the Montecito Fire Department said students at Westmont College were asked to go to the gym until the danger passed. An evacuation center was set up at a high school.

Ventura was unsure how many houses had burned.