Another Fire in Santa Barbara (Montecito to be Precise)



[Looking down on Montecito. Image swiped from Google.]

The Santa Barbara area has been hit with the second major fire this year. The epicenter this time is Montecito, a small affluent town east of the city. The wooded foothills and incredibly expensive estates provided enough fuel to allow the fire to expand rapidly.

This Fire is called the Tea Fire as it started near the (now defunct) Tea Gardens. Once known as “Mar y Cel” the gardens were:

built by Mr. & Mrs. Henry Bothin in 1916, where they hosted elaborate tea parties, surrounded by African flora. At some point, the Bothlin estate, at the top of the hill, burned and the Tea Gardens lay in ruin. With stunning views, the site contains the remains of an intricate array of stone aqueducts and water works, Romanesque arches, Greek-like statues, and clam-shaped birdbaths that flowed down hill.


Skateboarders know the property as the Tea Bowls due to the two large reservoirs which (while damaged) were very fun to skate. People also used to have keg parties up there and the fire was apparently started by a group of “young adults, aged 18-22” who started a fire to keep warm and left without making sure the fire was completely out.

My friends and I spent many summer afternoons skating up there. I was not able to locate any old pics of me and the homees but I did locate a few videos online. I have no idea who these people are, the vids are provided just to give you a taste of what the place was like to skate. It was a beautiful place and it is incredibly sad to know skaters will never again be able to enjoy it. Of course, this pales in comparison to those who lost their homes and pets. My thoughts are with them at this difficult time.


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