RV blaze ignites brush fire; motorist rescues three pets
26 April 2004
Anna DavisSanta Barbara News-Press
A vacationing Lodi couple had a lucky escape Sunday when their motor' home caught fire on Highway 154 near West Camino Cielo. They escaped uninjured and managed to rescue three pets, but the blaze started a fire that burned a quarter-acre of thick brush, authorities said.
Fire crews from Santa Barbara. County, the U.S. Forest Service and the San' Marcos and Painted Cave volunteer fire departments had the blaze contained in about a half-hour. Highway 154 was closed in both directions near the summit for more than an hour, according to the California Highway Patrol Smoke from the fire was visible from Santa Barbara and Goleta.
"I'm really glad this didn't happen in July or August," said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Steve Kliest "It would have been a pretty serious wildland fire."
The couple was driving north just before 4 p.m. when the motor home starting having engine trouble, authorities said, so they pulled off to the side of the road, and "when they did, the engine compartment burst into flames," Capt. Kliest said.
Other motorists tried to help douse the blaze with fire extinguishers, but it proved too fierce.
"There was no explosion, but all of a sudden a big burst of flame," said Natalia Bliss, who stopped to help.
Ms. Bliss said the woman's husband wanted to go back into the motor home to rescue the couple's pets. He managed to save their two dogs and one of two cats before Ms. Bliss persuaded him it was too dangerous to brave the flames one last time.
The motor home, a 33 foot 1979 Landau that was worth between $7,000 and $9,000, was destroyed in the blaze, Capt. Kliest said.