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In the fire zone, 'everybody's affected now'

More than 30,500 were placed under evacuation orders. Some are staying with friends while others sleep on cots at the UC campus.

May 09, 2009|Catherine Saillant

Still, they feel lucky that they have a place to stay.

"I talked to three people in the grocery store today who are in their second place to stay because they were evacuated from the first home they went to," Cloud said.

At the fully booked Biltmore, Karen Earp, the hotel's general manager, said a third of the 207 rooms were occupied by people who had been forced out of their homes. And there is a waiting list.

"They just want to make sure they are safe and secure with their families," Earp said.

Caffo, who works in finance at the hotel, said he's been staying there since Tuesday night, when he and his partner were ordered to leave their home in Mission Canyon. The stay has been "fantastic," he said.

Thursday night, about 30 cars were lined up in the driveway of Bacara Resort up the coast from Santa Barbara, said John Davies, a public affairs consultant who works with the resort and who is also an evacuee staying there.

Close to 500 evacuees were staying at the hotel, taking up about 224 of its roughly 300 rooms, Davies said. The hotel was completely booked and, like the Biltmore, has a waiting list.

"It feels ironic to be in such a nice place when there's such a tragedy going on," Davies said.

At the Montecito Inn, manager Jim Copus said panicked residents started calling Thursday night as flames encroached on Montecito. About half of the Charlie Chaplin-built hotel's 61 rooms were taken up by evacuees.

Copus said he saw familiar faces, those of people who stayed there during last year's Tea fire.

Most evacuees were glued to televisions in their rooms, mostly ordering room service for meals, he said.

Authorities on Friday could not say when evacuated residents might return home.

"It's a waiting game," Johnson said. "We're a community, and people will really do everything they can to help each other out."

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catherine.saillant@latimes.com

Times staff writer Victoria Kim contributed to this report.

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