A vegetation fire that erupted and scorched nearly 70 acres north of Los Olivos last week was caused by an open propane flame during an unpermitted burn operation, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials. 

The Caballo fire, which broke out on Sept. 6, escaped control of an operator who was using a propane torch to eradicate weeds near Avenida Caballo and Caballo Lane approximately three and a half miles northeast of Los Olivos, according to Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, County Fire spokesman. It was not immediately clear if the operator was cited as a result of the fire. 

The fire, which was reported shortly after 2 p.m., led to the evacuation of several nearby homes and damaged one barn on Avenida Caballo. No injuries were reported. 

Several hand crews, bulldozer and water tender operators and 16 engines responded, along with four fixed-wing air tankers and three helicopters, according to fire officials. About 200 personnel helped in the effort.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes Monday evening and the fire was fully contained by Wednesday, according to officials. 

A fire permit is required for anyone operating a torch or an open flame in a wildfire risk area, although the County Fire Department does not recommend torches or open flames, according to Bertucelli. 

Anyone with questions regarding how to obtain a permit can contact inspection.services@sbcfire.com or 805-686-5077. Anyone with additional information regarding the fire can contact fire investigators at fireinfo@sbcfire.com.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.

 
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