Two houses were engulfed in flames and two others were damaged Wednesday afternoon in a two-alarm fire in Goleta, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Crews were dispatched at 4:49 p.m. to the 600 block of Dara Road, which is off Cathedral Oaks Road, between Fairview and Patterson avenues.
One firefighter was transported to the hospital for heat-related injuries, but no one else was hurt, according to Mike Eliason, a Fire Department spokesman.
A large column of black smoke was visible in the area, and evacuations of nearby structures were reported to be under way, according to emergency radio traffic.
The first arriving units reported heavy smoke and flames coming from a single-story structure, Eliason said.
At that point, a second alarm was sent, and as more crews were called in — including firefighters from the city of Santa Barbara — the home next door also caught fire, he said.
Aided by winds clocking approximately 30 mph, smoke and some flames then leapt to two other homes to the west, Eliason said, adding that fire reached the rear of the third home and a fourth saw damage from radiation of heat.
He said the fire was knocked down in about an hour, although crews and a fire investigator were remaining on scene into the evening.
Authorities couldn't confirm a cause of the fire or where it originated in the first home, but neighbors told Noozhawk it appeared to have started in a laundry room.
Ken Reyburn, who lives a couple blocks down from the blaze, said he heard from another neighbor that a dryer lint trap caught fire while a female resident was doing laundry. When she couldn't put it out herself, she called 9-1-1, along with several other neighbors.
"I came out to put some stuff in the recycle bin, and I saw black smoke coming up," Reyburn said. "I'm glad that I'm down this way."
Roxana Lago had just started her shift at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital when she got a call from her mother saying their rental home — the second involved residence —was on fire.
Everyone got out in time, but by evening the family still hadn't found two cats — one orange and one gray —that had been missing since the excitement began.
"We're hoping they're OK," Lago said.
Eliason said only residents living in the impacted homes were evacuated, and that the American Red Cross was on scene to assist anyone displaced.
Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.