Isla Vista Power Shuts Off a Dozen Times, Residents Receive Mistake Evacuation Order

The Thomas Fire douses Sisar Peak in Ojai with smoke. (Image Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)

Shomik Mukherjee
News Editor

Isla Vista experienced at least 12 power outages overnight Sunday due to the ongoing Thomas Fire, which swept into southern Santa Barbara County over the weekend. I.V. residents also received, by mistake, a “civil emergency” evacuation alert early Sunday morning, but the county of Santa Barbara later clarified that the order was meant exclusively for an area north of Carpinteria.

The power first died at 1:25 a.m. Sunday, with the outage stretching to UCSB campus and parts of Goleta. It came back on at 2:30 a.m., completing the first of about a dozen outages for the night. The power appeared to come back on for good at 5:07 a.m.

I.V. residents reacted with relative calm to Sunday’s outages, although a couch was reportedly burned around 4:00 a.m. on the 6600 block of Picasso Road. During an extended blackout early Tuesday morning, by comparison, hordes of residents took to the streets of I.V. and several couches were lit on fire throughout the night.  

Minor panic set in early Sunday morning around the neighborhood, when thousands of I.V. residents, as well as residents across the county, received a “civil emergency” evacuation alert.

“Civil Emergency in this area until 2:34AM PST Evacuate Now SBCOEM,” the alert read. Within minutes, however, the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management (SBCOEM) had tweeted a clarification stating the evacuation order applied only to an area north of Carpinteria.

No mandatory evacuation was required for Isla Vista, the SBCOEM confirmed. At 2:48 a.m., the office sent a second alert to phones across the county, making the distinction.

“Mandatory evacuation order is for area north of City of Carpinteria only,” the new alert read.