Wildfire near Santa Barbara burns 600 acres, prompting evacuations
By Matt Hamilton | Los Angeles Times
The Rey fire was reported about 3:30 p.m. near the White Rock Campground off Paradise Road amid strong winds and temperatures in the 90s, said Mike Eliason, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Some mountain cabins and homes along Paradise Road were evacuated, but precise figures on evacuation numbers were not immediately available. Several motorists were trying to flee the area as the blaze quickly spread, Eliason said.
A portion of Highway 154 was briefly closed between Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez, but has since been reopened. Paradise Road remains closed.
The blaze was 20% contained as of 9 p.m.
The fire was burning in a remote, rugged area near the Santa Ynez River. Firefighters had difficulty reaching the burn area with engines, prompting a strong aerial attack that included two helicopters and four air tankers, according to a statement issued by county officials.
Firefighters were trying to dump retardant across the northern flank of the fire to slow the growth of the blaze, Eliason said.
Winds were pushing the fire toward the north and west, away from the more populated areas along the county's scenic coast and further into Los Padres National Forest, Eliason said.
The last massive wildfire to occur in the area was the Zaca fire in 2007, which charred more than 375 square miles and became one of the largest fires in California history.
In the Rey fire, no structures have been lost, but an unknown number of structures were threatened.
An evacuation center opened at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. Residents who need help evacuating animals should call (805) 681-4332.