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Fire officials said if the weather cooperates, the Cave fire could be fully contained by Wednesday.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, it could take nearly two weeks for firefighters to build containment lines all the way around the burned area, said Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Daniel Bertucelli.

Although Sunday is expected to be windy, which could hinder efforts, Saturday’s rain plus the overcast skies predicted Monday and rain forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday could help hold the fire in check.

Saturday morning, Bertucelli said the fire was 80% contained at 3,126 acres, with 50 firefighters working to cut lines around the burned area roughly the shape of Africa.

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He added that Caltrans plans to open Highway 154 to through traffic Monday, also weather permitting.

Although the cause is still under investigation, fire officials said the fire erupted about 4:15 p.m. Nov. 25 near Highway 154 and Painted Cave Road and, driven by Santa Lucia winds, spread rapidly south and east.

Flames burned right up to the edge of neighborhoods north of Foothill Road but firefighters held the line and no homes were lost, although thousands of residents were evacuated.

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