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The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History complies with both City and County guidelines relating to fire prevention and response in the operations of its Mission Canyon campus.

The Museum has adopted the following operational policy to guide its response to a Red Flag Condition. This policy is reviewed on a regular basis with City and County fire officials to ensure the safety of our visitors, our collections and our neighborhood:

Red Flag Warning Precautionary Actions

Watches, Warnings,
or Advisories for
Santa Barbara

This web page is
updated regularly.

A Red Flag Warning is a public notice alert issued by the National Weather Service which indicates that critical fire weather conditions are expected. This in combination with very dry fuels could create extreme fire danger and/or fire behavior. 

The Museum’s Precautionary Actions for a Red Flag Warning are:

  1. Notify staff of conditions and to be prepared for further notices throughout the day. 
    1. Museum recommends that staff park facing out of parking stalls in case evacuation is ordered.  
    2. Staff should know where their personal belongings and identifications are in case closure or evacuation of the Museum is directed by Museum administration or emergency authorities.  
    3. Museum camp personnel should be prepared to take action to manage campers, notify parents, and arrange for early pick-up if Museum closure is required. (see number 6 below).
  2. Notify Museum visitors of Red Flag Warning by posting a sign at the primary Visitor Entrance and the Double Iron Gates, and reminding tourists that the Museum is a non-smoking facility.
  3. Departments should take the time to evaluate critical items or records they would remove from the premises in the case of emergency should it be safe, time permitting, and prudent to do so.
  4. All outdoor activities that are potential fire ignition sources are suspended.
  5. The locked gates at either end of the Museum open space are opened in case of emergency or evacuation.
  6. Red Flag Warning Period: whenever there is an active wildfire burning within the Santa Ynez Mountains from the El Camino Cielo ridgeline road in the north, from Highway 154 in the west to Romero Canyon in the east that coincide with declared Red Flag Warning periods, or when ordered to evacuate by fire or law officials, whichever occurs first, the Museum policy is to vacate the premises and close to the public, including special events. Museum administration will advise staff if they should also leave the premises. 
  7. If the Museum closes, the pubic shall be notified of the closure by media alerts, on-site signage, and notification alerts on the Museum website.
  8. Facilities staff will manage any preparations of HVAC systems, hoses, etc. in the case of an ordered evacuation of the Museum campus.  Staff will also conduct regular observations of the Museum perimeter and open space throughout the day.

Jesusita Fire of May 2009: Summary of Museum Closure & Evacuation

The Jesusita fire started at approximately 1:45 PM on Tuesday, May 5, 2009 and a single column of white smoke on the mountain range was visible from the Museum.  By 2:00 PM, Museum Management had already closed the Museum to the public and on-site visitors were vacated from the Museum.

Within the next 20-30 minutes Museum non-essential staff were sent home. The remaining staff on campus included staff who lived in Museum housing on Puesta del Sol and a small skeleton crew to close and secure the Museum. The Museum remained closed to the public until Monday, May 11, 2009.

By the time Mission Canyon residents started to evacuate the area, Museum visitors and staff had already left the area. Therefore Museum activities did not contribute to any traffic issues on the primary vehicular arteries (Mission Canyon Road, Foothill, Puesta del Sol and Alamar).


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