Firefighters from multiple agencies took just over an hour to knock down a wildfire that broke out Thursday between Highway 101 and Zaca Station Road, fire officials said at the scene.

Emergency services received multiple reports of the fire that erupted about 11:30 a.m. north of the Highway 154 exit to Los Olivos.

By noon, the Woodchopper fire had grown to about 5 acres and was sending up a huge plume of smoke visible for miles.

But despite a strong offshore flow, firefighters prevented the flames from jumping Highway 101. 

Two Cal Fire trucks carrying Vallecito crew members to the Thomas fire were diverted to fight the blaze alongside firefighters from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Los Padres National Forest.

"We were also joined by a county air support helicopter making water drops and two fixed-wing air tankers that dropped Foschek, helping to paint the box around the fire," said County Fire spokesman Mike Eliason. 

The pilot of an Airtac plane en route to the Woodchopper incident spotted a second fire starting on Cat Canyon Road near where another 15-acre fire burned Tuesday, Eliason said.

Additional Los Padres and County Fire units were sent to fight that blaze, which was last reported at 4 acres at 6859 Cat Canyon Road.

Highway 101 was closed just north of Highway 154 and at Alisos Canyon Road near Los Alamos, with traffic being turned around at both locations by California Highway Patrol officers.  

After the fire was contained, one lane in each direction was reopened to traffic about 1:15 p.m.

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Pacific Gas and Electric Co. had crews with two trucks working on power lines at the site of the fire, and both vehicles sustained major damage from the fire.

Live power lines in the area also posed a hazard to firefighters, Eliason said, until the lines were eventually de-energized.

Eliason said the fire was held at 5 acres, but Capt. Vince LaRocco at the scene estimated it was about 15 acres. Another firefighter coming in from the fire lines estimated it at 40 acres.

LaRocco said about 70 firefighters and one hotshot crew with five trucks and two bulldozers fought the blaze. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.

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