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White Fire Near Santa Maria Blamed On Bird Hitting Power Lines

The 52-acre blaze was completely contained by Sunday night, with firefighting efforts aided by cooperative weather

An air tanker drops a load of retardant on a fire burning Saturday afternoon in a rural area east of Santa Maria. The blaze charred 52 acres and was contained by Sunday night.
An air tanker drops a load of retardant on a fire burning Saturday afternoon in a rural area east of Santa Maria. The blaze charred 52 acres and was contained by Sunday night.  (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

Investigators say a bird striking a power line sparked the weekend's 52-acre White Fire east of Santa Maria.

The fire started Saturday afternoon in the 2200 block of White Rock Lane, near the community of Garey, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Investigators pinpointed the cause of the fire on a bird that flew into power lines, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said Monday morning.

Aggressive attack and cooperative weather led to 100-percent containment of the vegetation fire by Sunday evening, hours earlier than initially estimated, Zaniboni said.

Access was troublesome for firefighters trying to reach the scene of the fire, which burned in steep terrain with few roads.

“We just had weather on our side and we fought it very aggressively both from the ground and from the air and kept it to 52 acres,” Zaniboni said. 

Mild winds and relatively high humidity aided firefighting efforts, he added.

In addition to County Fire, crews from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Cal Fire and Los Padres National Forest helped battle the blaze. 

The White Fire is the second blaze sparked in the North County this year by a bird flying into a power line. 

Investigators blamed a bird striking a power line for starting a 20-acre fire on Orcutt Hill in June.

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

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