A vegetation fire off Highway 166 northeast of Santa Maria blackened approximately 50 acres Friday afternoon and led to the roadway’s partial closure.
Crews from Cal Fire, Santa Barbara County and Los Padres National Forest fire departments responded to the incident 2 miles east of Rock Front Ranch.
By 5:30 p.m., firefighters had stopped the forward progress of the flames, according to Mike Gray, engineer/inspector for the county Fire Department.
At 8:35, the U.S. Forest Service declared the fire fully contained.
The fire was burning entirely on the north side of Highway 166, with one report claiming the incident involved horse corrals, according to emergency dispatch reports.
They estimated the blaze, dubbed the Gifford Fire, could grow to 100 acres, but reportedly was spreading in the grass at a slow rate.
In addition to crews, firefighters were expected to request aircraft and bulldozers to help battle the flames. At one point, three tankers were en route to assist crews on the ground, but two returned as crews made progress in the battle.
Early after being dispatched, crews were working pinpointing the exact location of the blaze since the different sections of the area fall under Santa Barbara County Fire, Cal Fire and Los Padres jurisdictions.
Ultimately, Los Padres firefighters assumed command of the incident.
Firefighters were expected to remain working at the site overnight, Forest Service officials said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation on Friday afternoon.
Westbound and eastbound traffic on Highway 166 reportedly was affected by the fire due to its proximity to the roadway. But later Friday, eastbound vehicles were being escorted through the area and by 4:40 p.m. personnel said traffic was flowing smoothly.
Highway 166, with two lanes for most of the route, serves as a key connection between the Central Coast and the San Joaquin Valley.