Firefighters were called Thursday morning for the third time in four days — and second time in less than 16 hours — to put out blazes at homeless encampments in the Santa Ynez Riverbed near Lompoc.

Crews from the Lompoc, Santa Barbara County and Vandenberg Air Force Base fire departments were able to extinguish two separate fires Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in the riverbed. The Wednesday fire, which was reported around 6:45 p.m., was put out in about 20 minutes. The separate Thursday fire was reported around 10 a.m.

No injuries were reported from either incident, and both are still under investigation, according to Lompoc Fire.

The Wednesday fire, which occurred just north of the Robinson Bridge, was estimated to have grown to about 60 feet by 40 feet. Firefighters were initially slowed by the presence of several propane gas tanks in the area, according to Lompoc Fire.

Crews were able to contain that fire to the encampment and minimize spread to nearby brush, according to Lompoc Fire, which noted that firefighters remained on scene for more than two hours overhauling the area.

The Thursday morning fire, which ignited near East North Avenue Riverside Drive, was also contained to a homeless encampment. Crews also remained at the scene of that incident for two hours after the extinguishment of the fire, which grew to an area of about 100 feet by 50 feet, and needed to use a backhoe to move debris.

The week before, the Lompoc Police Department began serving eviction notices to people living in makeshift homes in the riverbed as the city prepares to move forward with a full-scale cleanup of the area, which is home to many people in the Lompoc community who are otherwise homeless.

Thursday's fire was the 15th reported in the riverbed this year, according to Lompoc Fire.

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.



Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base, for Lee Central Coast News. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.