Santa Barbara County Fire crews responded early Friday to a fire at Storke Road and Whittier Drive in Goleta that left five structures in ruins.
It is considered suspicious, and investigators were on the scene.
Capt. David Sadecki said all five structures — including three construction trailers, a three-story apartment complex under construction and an abandoned clubhouse from the former Ocean Meadows Golf Course — were fully engulfed when crews arrived about 3:30 a.m.
Firefighters reported seeing 60- to 70-foot flames.
Sadecki said the buildings are located on UCSB property.
The call time was 3:29 a.m., and a second alarm went out at 3:36 a.m. to call in more resources. The blaze was knocked down by 4:30 a.m.
No injuries were reported. Storke Road remained closed, with firefighters on scene for cleanup and investigation, Sadecki said.
He said a person of interest was contacted by law enforcement but released.
Santa Barbara County Fire was assisted by crews from the Santa Barbara City Fire Department, UCSB Police and the county Sheriff's Department. Ten fire engines responded to the scene, with seven from County Fire and three from Santa Barbara City Fire.
“At this point, officially it’s suspicious,” engineer Russ Sechler said, adding that it’s generally suspicious when fires this large aren’t reported until they’re fully in flames — no matter what time of day, the fire department usually gets alerted more quickly. “It’s possible nobody could see given it was early in the morning, but most of the time we’ll be alerted no matter what time it is.”
Santa Barbara County most likely will request a state investigator since the fires were on UCSB property.
The investigation will determine the cause, which could take several days with such a large scene, and the timeline of when it started and when it was discovered and reported. They may have to canvass the neighborhood, Sechler said.
This case is being treated as five different fires contained in a small area, with the UCSB housing apartment complex under construction, the three construction trailers and the abandoned golf course building.