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A mother of two who helped make Christmas 2008 a little brighter for children after the Tea Fire is setting her sights on another group in need -- those affected by the Jesusita Fire.

Montecito resident Dina Barton hopes to pair families, individuals and business owners in the throes of dealing with last week's 8,700-acre Jesusita blaze with Tea Fire survivors as a way of making life a little more bearable.

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The overwhelming gratitude to the city and county of Santa Barbara fire departments, and for all the fire departments and agencies that responded to the Jesusita Fire, was proudly broadcast at La Cumbre Jr. High on Thursday night as the firefighters gave a presentation on how the fire spread, and what steps were taken to combat the flames.

Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum opened the presentation by thanking the firefighters, law enforcement agencies, and everyone else who responded to the fire.

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Officials are holding what's billed as a Jesusita Fire community meeting 7 p.m. today at La Cumbre Junior High School, 2255 Modoc Road.

State, federal and local fire and law enforcement officials will provide the public with first-hand information about the Jesusita Fire and its status. A question and answer session will be included.

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Talk about finding a diamond in the rough.

When the 8,700-acre Jesusita Fire roared through the hills east of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden on May 6, it destroyed a number of homes, including the 1970s "rustic" built by Richard Kern, 86, owner of Churchill Jewelers.

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Fire officials said today Gibraltar Road residents may return home.

Officials downgraded the evacuation order for the area to a warning, meaning there are no evacuation orders in place because of the Jesusita Fire.

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The American Red Cross Service Center is open at First Congregational Church, 2101 State St. (enter on Padre Street).

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

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Heaping praise on everyone from firefighters to Mental Health employees to the Red Cross, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday expressed relief and cautious optimism about the progress of the Jesusita Fire.

The board, meeting in Santa Maria, received a progress report that included concerns by fire officials about sundowner winds expected through Thursday.

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Shannon McGraw lost her 5-month-old daughter to a rare disorder and thought she'd hit rock bottom.

"My baby was cremated on (May 5). I also got my divorce papers that day," Ms. McGraw, 35, said Tuesday.

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Click here to see the list of properties damaged or destroyed by the JESUSITA FIRE


A red flag warning was issued for the South Coast from 5 p.m. today until 11 a.m. Thursday by the National Weather Service.

The strongest winds will be along the South Coast, the Santa Ynez Range and the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

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As part of a Red Cross fundraiser, Santa Barbara Signs & Graphics is handing out "Thank You Firefighters!" bumper stickers in appreciation of the effort to contain the Jesusita Fire.

The bumper stickers may be picked up at 3019 State St. from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Up to five stickers may be picked up per person, and a 50-cent-per-sticker donation is requested for the local Red Cross.

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Anyone affected by the Jesusita Fire can go to the UCSB MAC Center today and register for long-term assistance with the Red Cross.

Register between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Those who registered while an evacuee at the MAC Center must register again for long-term assistance.

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Weather along the South Coast this morning can best be described as cold and drizzly, but the fight against the Jesusita Fire goes on.

Incident commanders say favorable conditions over the past 48 hours or so allowed crews to achieve 70 percent containment of the seven-day-old blaze, which has burned an estimate 8,700 acres.

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Fire investigators today say they have confirmed the Jesusita fire origin is adjacent to the Jesusita Trail, commonly accessed from the San Roque or Tunnel Road areas.

The fire cause appears related to the use of power tool equipment involved in vegetation clearance. Fire investigators are requesting public assistance with identification of the person or persons engaged in vegetation clearance on May 4 and May 5.

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Cool temperatures and fog that swept across the South Coast over the past 24 hours, giving firefighters an edge in their battle against the Jesusita Fire, may be short-lived.

The National Weather Service said today that sundowner winds, those late-afternoon gusts that have turned an already chaotic fire in the foothills into an explosive force, will return to Santa Barbara County on Monday -- and may last through Thursday.

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THE MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER FOR WEST CAMINO CIELO INCLUDING KINEVAN ROAD AREA, INCLUDING RESIDENCES HAVING HIGHWAY 154 ADDRESSES, HAS CHANGED TO A WARNING.

RESIDENTS OF THIS AREA WILL BE ALLOWED TO RETURN WITH PROPER IDENTIFICATION (I.E. DRIVER'S LICENSE, UTILITY BILL, U.S. MAIL).

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Today marked the closing of the local Red Cross chapter's Dos Pueblos High School shelter.

Overnight, 30 people stayed at the Red Cross shelter in UCSB's Multi-Activity Center.

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Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is closed today because of the Jesusita Fire.

It will reopen at 10 a.m. Monday.

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The public may call 681-5197 for information on the fire, evacuation shelters, road closures and other information.


Students who need to check out today can drive to the Westmont campus after 10 a.m.

Students checking out, their parents and helpers, and any faculty and staff who come to campus should be aware that it is under an evacuation warning, officials said.

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Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is closed today because of the Jesusita Fire.

The mandatory evacuation order for the museum was downgraded to a warning, but until the warning is lifted, the museum will remain closed, said spokeswoman Easter Moorman.

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The cool temperatures and fog that swept across the South Coast over the past 24 hours, giving firefighters an edge in their battle against the Jesusita Fire may be short-lived.

The National Weather Service said today that sundowner winds, those late-afternoon gusts that have turned an already chaotic fire in the foothills into an explosive force, will return to Santa Barbara County on Monday.

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Investigators assigned to the Jesusita Fire are seeking information about "activities on or near the Jesusita or Tunnel hiking trails in the San Roque Road and Tunnel Road areas on May 4 and 5.

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As of Friday evening, the cost to fight the Jesusita Fire was said to be $6.8 million. Containment is set for Wednesday.

Here are some of the other fire statistics:

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The following area businesses or nonprofits are extending their services to victims of the Jesusita Fire and/or firefighters:

LODGING

* Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau has compiled a list of hotels that are offering discounts to those routed from their homes:

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The Jesusita Fire County Call Center was set to close at midnight. It will reopen at 6 a.m. today.

The public may call at that time for information on the fire, evacuation shelters, road closures and other information. The phone number is 681-5197.

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The following is a list of closures and events that have been canceled or rescheduled as a result of the Jesusita Fire:

CLOSURES

* The Santa Barbara Family YMCA at 35 Hitchcock Way is closed until further notice.

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As the Jesusita Fire entered its fifth day, evacuees at the Red Cross shelter at UCSB were visited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his longtime friend and Montecito resident, Rob Lowe. The two were on hand to cheer on those affected by the blaze ó and the governor wanted to reassure them that the state is working on their behalf.

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Authorities today gave the first indication of where the investigation into the Jesusita Fire is focused.

Investigators assigned to the incident are seeking information about "activities on or near the Jesusita or Tunnel hiking trails in the San Roque Road and Tunnel Road areas on May 4 and 5.

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AT 3 P.M., JESUSITA FIRE INCIDENT COMMAND RELEASED THIS STATEMENT:

HIGHWAY 154 NORTH OF CALLE REAL REMAINS CLOSED EXCEPT FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLE TRAFFIC ONLY.

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AS OF 2 P.M., ALL RESIDENCES WITHIN THE FOLLOWING AREA: GARDEN AND MICHELTORENA, MICHELTORENA EAST, EXTENDING TO ALAMEDA PADRE SERRA (APS), ALAMEDA PADRE SERRA TO SYCAMORE CANYON ROAD, SYCAMORE CANYON ROAD (HWY 144) TO STANWOOD DRIVE (HWY 192), STANWOOD DRIVE (HWY 192) TO FOOTHILL ROAD (HWY 192), FOOTHILL ROAD (HWY 192) TO MISSION CANYON ROAD, MISSION CANYON ROAD TO LOS OLIVOS, LOS OLIVOS TO GARDEN STREET, GARDEN STREET SOUTH TO MICHELTORENA.

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The following area businesses or nonprofits are extending their services to victims of the Jesusita Fire and/or firefighters:

LODGING

* Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau has compiled a list of hotels that are offering discounts to those routed from their homes:

MoreĽ


The following is a list of closures and events that have been canceled or rescheduled as a result of the Jesusita Fire:

CLOSURES

* The Santa Barbara Family YMCA at 35 Hitchcock Way is closed until further notice.

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Direct Relief International, in cooperation with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, will be distributing free NIOSH N-95 face masks from noon to 3 p.m. today at Scolari's market on Milpas Street and Goleta Community Center on Hollister Avenue.

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Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Wallace today said the moisture that came in the form of fog, and calmer skies helped crews on the Jesusita Fire overnight and will do so again today.

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The following area businesses or nonprofits are extending their services to victims of the Jesusita Fire and/or firefighters:

LODGING MoreĽ


As a result of the Jesusita Fire and other fires of the past year, the local American Red Cross chapter needs financial assistance.

To make a donation, go to www.sbredcross.org MoreĽ


The United States Postal Service is making mail for people evacuated because of the Jesusita Fire available at local post offices.

"As you know, the air quality there is pretty bad," spokesman Richard Maher told the News-Press. "All of our offices are in the evacuation warning area, but theyíre doing whatever they can do to continue normal mail service." MoreĽ


The News-Press has received calls about an earthquake today.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 4.2 quake struck at 1:27 p.m. about 4 miles east of Ojai. MoreĽ


A DC-10 that drops fire retardant arrived over the Jesusita Fire area today to put its muscle to work against this out-of-control blaze.

The first drop, at about 12:55 p.m., was in the Gibraltar Road area. The jet then headed back to its base in Victorville to refill with the orange retardant, before heading back to the South Coast. MoreĽ


The Santa Barbara High School prom, which was to take place Saturday, has been postponed because of the Jesusita Fire.
A new date has yet to be determined.
The following is a list of closures and events that have been canceled or rescheduled as a result of the Jesusita Fire: MoreĽ


Mandatory Evacuation Orders

The Mandatory Evacuation Order is expanded to include a portion of Montecito as follows: all areas north of Sycamore Canyon Road and East Valley Road (Highway 192) between El Cielito Road and Gibraltar Road on the western boundary to Hot Springs Road north to East Camino Cielo on the eastern boundary. MoreĽ


The Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce is putting together an emergency housing list for victims of the Jesusita Fire.

The list will be published on the chamber Web site, sbchamber.org, beginning Monday. MoreĽ


Santa Barbara native Katy Perry's Saturday concert at Santa Barbara Bowl has been rescheduled to August 30. MoreĽ


Fire officials presented a sobering assessment of Jesusita Fire activity from Thursday night, telling reporters today at Earl Warren Showgrounds that the fire has expanded to a 5-mile front, with active fronts near Montecito and Goleta. MoreĽ


The Jesusita Fire has grown to 3,500 acres as of this morning. It is 10 percent contained.

The number of homes damaged or lost is 75. MoreĽ


Because of the Jesusita Fire, the Calle Real County Buildings are closed today and services to the public normally available at this campus will be closed. MoreĽ


One day after hearing that air support for Santa Barbara's latest devastating blaze was slow in coming because retardant-dropping planes were committed to Arizona, where homes were already burning, residents affected by the Jesusita Fire learned late Thursday that air support was taken away from them because of fires elsewhere -- even though homes here were burning. MoreĽ


The Red Cross opened up a second evacuation station at the UCSB Multi Activity Center (MAC) late Thursday night after more than 100 people poured into the Dos Pueblos High School evacuation shelter because of the Jesusita Fire. MoreĽ


The Red Cross opened up a second evacuation station at the UCSB Multi Activity Center (MAC) late Thursday night after more than 100 people poured into the Dos Pueblos High School evacuation shelter. The surge occurred after officials extended mandatory evacuations to Highway 154. MoreĽ


Some 60 residents at Senior Living Concepts, whose Via Lucero location put it in an evacuation warning zone, were moved to UCSB's Thunderdome on Thursday night. Ten had been evacuated from Wood Glen Hall on Foothill Road a day earlier. MoreĽ


The Santa Barbara Conference & Visitor Bureau's annual tourism luncheon scheduled today at the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club in Montecito was canceled because of the Jesusita Fire.

CVB officials said the event may be rescheduled, but no specific plans have been made yet. MoreĽ


The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden said Thursday that it had lost structures on its grounds. The 1908 Gane House, the proposed centerpiece of the Botanic Garden's building project the Vital Mission Plan, was destroyed.

The Botanic Garden had hoped to rehabilitate the large Craftsman-style home and to seek historic landmark status for it. Also lost in the fire was a deck overlooking Mission Canyon Creek, a lathe house, and the director's residence and garage. MoreĽ


Authorities have closed Highway 154 between Highway 101 and El Camino Cielo.The closure occurred just after 9 p.m.


At about 8 p.m., the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents north of Highway 192 (Foothill Road), from Highway 154 to Ontare Road and Morada Lane, including East Camino Cielo. This is in addition to previous mandatory evacuation orders. MoreĽ

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