Officials in Santa Barbara, California, ordered thousands of residents to evacuate their homes on Monday, Nov. 25, as wildfire continued to spread rapidly through the city, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The fire broke out in Los Padres National Forest just after 4 p.m. on Monday and sent flames downhill toward nearby communities in Santa Barbara and Goleta, according to the publication.
It was mostly burning through dry, bushy canyons and ridges of the Santa Ynez Mountains north of Santa Barbara, but evacuations were ordered just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Los Padres National Forest Fire Chief Jim Harris told the publication: “The Cave fire is burning under some of the toughest firefighting conditions anywhere in the world.
“We’ve experienced several offshore wind events at this point, and that has just dried the fuel bed out to the point where we’re seeing the fire behavior we saw last night.”
As many as 6,300 people were evacuated, and about 2,400 buildings were threatened early on Tuesday, Santa Barbara county fire spokesman, Mike Eliason, told KEYT television.
The fire spread quickly to consume around 4,100 acres by Tuesday morning, and none of it had been contained, Daniel Bertucelli of the county fire department told reporters.
It has been further aggravated by strong winds of up to 80 miles per hour and abundant bush, but conditions are set to improve with an oncoming rainstorm Tuesday night.
The rains, expected to arrive by midnight and last until Thursday, should bring at least an inch of precipitation to dry terrain that hasn’t received rainfall in six months.
Meanwhile, Bertucelli told the Los Angeles Times that 10 fixed-wing tankers and nine helicopters responded to the fire on Tuesday.
Most evacuees were also allowed to return to their homes by Tuesday evening after authorities reduced the evacuation zone size, NBC reported.
As of Tuesday evening, 4,440 acres have burned, with 10 percent containment, while no homes have been destroyed, and no one has been injured, according to Santa Barbara County Fire-Public Information Office.
The cause of the blaze is not yet known.
Santa Barbara was hit by a similar wildfire in June 1990, which killed one person and caused a reported $250 million worth of damage, burning 5,000 acres and destroying 427 buildings.
That fire was determined to be the result of arson, allegedly at the hands of a man named Leonard Ross who reportedly confessed to a girlfriend that he had started the fire to “burn out” a neighbor he had been feuding with. However, the charges were later dropped against Ross due to lack of evidence.