Montecito Church Threatened by Fast-Moving Fire

Post a Comment » Written on November 14th, 2008     
Filed under: News
MONTECITO, CA (November 14, 2008) – Montecito Covenant Church is threatened by a massive fire that already has destroyed eight smaller buildings and 14 faculty homes in neighboring Westmont College.

The fast-moving brush fire, driven by 50- to 70-mph winds, erupted Thursday night in the hills above Montecito in Santa Barbara County, burning 1,500 acres, destroying more than 80 homes and forcing evacuations of luxury neighborhoods, reports the Los Angeles Times. Dubbed the Tea fire, the blaze broke out about 6 p.m. in the wealthy Cold Springs area of Montecito, where a number of celebrities live, and quickly overwhelmed firefighters with its speed.

“Pray for the fire to abate and for lives to be spared!”

Westmont College is located just up a hill from the Montecito church, writes Rick Lindholtz in an early morning update to Covenant News Service. “Pastor Don Johnson, en route to Virginia, got a call from parishioners asking what they wanted salvaged from the parsonage,” Lindholtz notes.

“We were getting on a plane in Detroit to go to the funeral service for my wife’s mother in Richmond, Virginia,” Johnson writes this morning in his blog, Jibstay. “We’d been flying all day and my phone rang. “What do you want from your house – the area around Montecito Covenant Church and Westmont College is being evacuated right now!” he continues. “Brave friends of ours went in and carried away what they thought was valuable and were forced by officials down the hill. Pray for the fire to abate and for lives to be spared!”

“This is very serious,” notes Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission who at one time served as pastor of the Montecito church and knows the area well. “We always prepared for this kind of crisis, but it is devastating when it actually happens,” he recalls. “One fire like this in 1992 burned 620 homes. Please pray.”

Forecasters are calling for a resumption of Santa Ana winds this morning, the Times reports. Gusts are expected to be weaker than the 70 mph winds that firefighters encountered early in the blaze.

Covenant News Service will publish updates on the situation as information becomes available.

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