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Malfunctioning Vehicle Blamed For Sparking Rucker Fire Near Lompoc

Full Containment of 441-acre blaze expected Monday evening; no injuries reported

Firefighters assigned to the Rucker Fire near Lompoc get their morning briefing Sunday at the command post at Hancock College. Full containment of the 441-acre fire was expected by 6 p.m. Sunday. Click to view larger
Firefighters assigned to the Rucker Fire near Lompoc get their morning briefing Sunday at the command post at Hancock College. Full containment of the 441-acre fire was expected by 6 p.m. Sunday. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

A malfunctioning vehicle was responsible for sparking the series of vegetation fires that collectively became the Rucker Fire near Lompoc, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

"Several pieces of catalytic converter were collected" in the area of the fires, Mike Eliason, a Fire Department spokesman, said Sunday.

As of Sunday morning, the blaze that broke out Friday north of the city had charred 441 acres and was 90-percent contained, and full containment was expected Sunday evening.

However, gusty winds Sunday afternoon carried embers beyond the containment line near La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, causing a flare-up of the fire, Eliason said.

The flare-up charred 2 to 4 acres, with air tankers requested to assist with the battle, he added.

As a precaution, an evacuation warning was issued for La Purisima Mission, a popular tourist spot and hiking locale. 

The fire activity on Sunday afternoon prompted the incident commander to delay the predicted containment time by 24 hours, Eliason said.

The fire, which erupted shortly after 2 p.m. Friday on the 2200 block of Rucker Road and other roads in the area, threatened dozens of structures and forced the evacuation of several neighborhoods north of Lompoc before firefighters gained the upper hand.

After the first report of flames, crews quickly determined there actually were up to 10 separate blazes, Eliason told Noozhawk.

No injuries have been reported.

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Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). This story includes reporting from North County editor Janene Scully. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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