An odd but natural phenomenon sparked a small vegetation Saturday morning on a hillside one mile west of Arroyo Burro Beach.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department personnel were dispatched at 11:22 a.m. Saturday to the incident, county fire spokesman Mike Eliason said.
“The temperamental geological phenomenon known as the Hope Ranch Volcano awoke Saturday morning, starting a small but smoky vegetation fire … ,” Eliason said.
A column of black smoke rose from the site midday Saturday.
The small vegetation fire did not threaten any structures and was quickly contained, Eliason said.
Dubbed the Hope Ranch Volcano locally, the phenomenon isn’t related to steam linked to magma.
Instead, a different natural geologic phenomenon causes oil shale trapped in sedimentary rocks to heat up and combust spontaneously, smoldering once exposed to oxygen.
The Hope Ranch site flares up periodically, sometimes igniting vegetation and at other times demanding attention from firefighters to ensure that the area remains safe.