The small town of Los Olivos is battling impending forest fires in the nearby hills

The small town of Los Olivos is battling impending forest fires in the nearby hills

LOS OLIVOS, Calif. – The rural community of Los Olivos was hoping for a pleasant summer filled with traditional events, neighborhood gatherings, tourists supporting their businesses and regulars coming for wine tasting. But the big event on the Fourth of July weekend was a wildfire.

The Lake Fire, up the road at Zaca Lake Resort, is several miles from Los Olivos, but the town is one of the closest areas where you can get something to eat or where firefighters can stop their vehicles to regroup before returning to their base camps.

Campers and those wishing to drive up Figueroa Mountain Road must turn around a few miles further up near Sycamore Valley Ranch (formerly Neverland Ranch).

Smoke from the 20,000-acre fire blankets the sky and obscures life in the Santa Ynez Valley amid 100-degree temperatures.

It remains to be seen whether this fire will deter travelers who have planned a trip to the area, or whether they will realize that the fire is burning up in the mountains and not down in the main residential areas or near the shops.

“The weekend was a little quieter than usual,” said Corey Edwards of the Los Olivos General Store. “Traffic was a little slower than usual in July because of A, the heat and B, the fire.” Customers were still browsing candles, books, food and wine inside, but also looking outside at the skies.

There was a light to moderate wind and for most of the day the skies over Los Olivos were clear as the wind was just strong enough to push the smoke in a different direction.

Leanna Drammer, owner of Lou’s clothing boutique, said, “Over the weekend I was out doing a little pop-up at Mattei’s Tavern and my eyes were bleeding, the air quality was so smoky.” Today, “I say the air quality is much better.”

Drammer was at the post office, where many people came and went and talked about the fire.

Tyler Westover poured local wine at the Coquelicot Tasting Room. He said, “A lot of people here are also very concerned about the air quality and some of the tasting rooms in town have ‘closed’ signs hanging.”

New fire maps have been distributed throughout the city and are displayed at the entrance by the fire department’s information team. They show the current extent and spread of the fire.

Edwards said, “It’s really scary, you know, not just for all the residents of the Fig Mountain area, but especially for the residents of Los Olivos because it seems so unpredictable and crazy that I think everyone is on high alert.”

The smoke can be very threatening, even when the flames are blazing up in the mountains. Westover said he is “afraid that it will scare people away, and I hope people continue to come up.”