California’s Whittier Fire Destroys Boy Scouts Camp, Killing All Of The Animals At The Center

Smoke from the Alamo fire rises in an aerial view near Santa Maria

A wildfire tearing through western California on Sunday mostly destroyed a Boy Scouts camp, killing all of the animals in its nature center, authorities said.  The Whittier Fire in Los Padres National Forest, which began about 1:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. ET) Saturday and jumped across Highway 154, had grown to about 7,800 acres, incident commanders said Sunday afternoon. It remained only 5 percent contained, they said.

The full moon rises over flames of the Alamo fire on a hilltop off Highway 166 east of Santa  Maria

The Outdoor School at Rancho Alegre, an outdoor residential education center that is home to the Los Padres Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement Sunday that it had “lost our dear animal friends in the nature center and many of the staff on site have lost most of their belongings.”

 

All staff members were safely evacuated, but many lost most of their belongings, it said.

 

The Boy Scouts council said that “a number of structures” were destroyed and that it was working with other councils to keep its programs going.

 

“It’s a rough fight,” Jim Harris, the national forest’s deputy fire chief, told reporters Sunday afternoon. Years of drought in the region created dangerously dry conditions that were aggravated by high temperatures that reached 110 degrees on Saturday, Harris said.

 

About 80 people at Circle V Ranch Camp in Santa Barbara County — most of them children — were forced to stay put and shelter Saturday night as acres of forest burned, Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Eric Peterson told reporters Sunday.

 

The campers were later evacuated and reunited with their families after what Peterson called a “rescue operation.”

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP; Reuters
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