Photo: Fire Damage | Courtesy Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Santa Barbara – The arrival of Fall in southern Santa Barbara County is historically accompanied by winds out of the north, a meteorological phenomenon that, by all appearances, was taken advantage of in the late night hours of November 2nd by 30-year-old Santa Barbara resident Jose Martin Alvarez-Castro when he ignited a brush fire at Goleta Beach County Park that quickly burned nearly ten acres.
According to Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Scott Safechuck, the outbreak of flames in a highly combustible eucalyptus grove during the evening’s high winds was first reported at 11:40 p.m. by a witness to the conflagration. Winds were blowing embers throughout the area by the time fire crews arrived on the scene, threatening the surrounding neighborhood and causing spot fires throughout the county parkland.
Evacuation orders to neighboring residents were promptly issued as Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department deputies interviewed witnesses to the even. According to SBSD Public Information Officer Raquel Zick, “deputies located and detained a person matching the suspect’s description provided by a witness.” That suspect was identified as Alvarez-Castro and he was summarily taken into custody and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where he was booked on charges of felony arson, obstructing a police officer, and possession of a controlled substance with his bail set at $20,000.
by Robert L. McCullough