Monday, October 15 , 2018, 10:54 pm | Fair 57º

 
 
 
 

Firefighters Contain 36-Acre Blaze Near Orcutt

Mandatory evacuation orders are all lifted; no injuries reported

An air tanker drops retardant on a vegetation fire that was threatening some 200 homes near Orcutt Thursday afternoon. It had burned an estimated 50-75 acres.
An air tanker drops retardant on a vegetation fire that was threatening some 200 homes near Orcutt Thursday afternoon. It had burned an estimated 50-75 acres.  (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)

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Nearby residents watch a vegetation fire that burned 50-74 acres Thursday near Orcutt. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)

Firefighters have contained a wind-driven vegetation fire near Orcutt that charred 36 acres, and forced the evacuation of some 200 homes Thursday afternoon, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Full containment of the fire was announced at 4:20 p.m.

The acreage of the fire was also reduced from previous estimates of 50-75 acres. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire was linked to a welding operation in the area that did not have proper clearance.

The two-alarm blaze was reported shortly after 1:30 p.m. near Oak Pass Lane and Rice Ranch Road, and burned in a southerly direction.

Evacuations were ordered for the area south of Rice Ranch and Stubblefield Roads.  The area included Via Alta and El Cerrito to the north and south into the Unical Oilfield, according to Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Approximately 595 reverse notification calls through the 9-1-1 system were made to residents in the area alerting them to the danger.

All evacuation orders were lifted as of 5 p.m., Hoover said.

A precautionary evacuation was also issued for the area of Highway 135 on the west, Clark Avenue to the North, Highway 101 on the east and the southbound area where it meets the mandatory evacuation area. 

Approximately 925 reverse 911 calls were made to residents were included in this area, Hoover said.

After 3 p.m., the forward progress of the fire had been halted, said fire Capt. David Sadecki.

Drivers in the area were being asked to avoid the roads due to emergency vehicles that were responding, especially on Clark Avenue.

A sheriff's deputy talks to a resident during evacuations Thursday during a vegetation fire near Orcutt. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)
A sheriff’s deputy talks to a resident during evacuations Thursday during a vegetation fire near Orcutt. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)

Homes were threatened, and county fire and the U.S. Forest Service had numerous engines on scene.

A helicopter and four air tankers were called in to help battle the blaze, along with crews from the city of Lompoc and Santa Maria, Vandenberg Air Force Base and other agencies in the region.

Firefighters were asking people to stay out of the area.

The California Highway Patrol closed down both ends of Stubblefield Road. 

Sage Crest Drive, Rice Ranch, Yarrow and Wildflower Roads were also closed.

Law enforcement units were moving in to evacuate homes on Clark and Harp Roads just before 3 p.m., according to scanner traffic.

An air tanker drops a load of retardant. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)
An air tanker drops a load of retardant. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)

A Red Cross Center was opened at Righetti High School at 941 E. Foster Road.

Thursday’s fire materialized in the middle of a Red Flag warning, which the National Weather Service issued because of gusty northwest winds and relative low humidity, both of which increase the likelihood of wildfire.

That warning, along with a wind advisory, have been extended through Friday, and county fire announced earlier Thursday that they’d be increasing their staffing levels as a result.

Noozhawk intern Amanda Hoffman contributed to this report.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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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