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A hay harvesting operation is being blamed for a Thursday afternoon wildfire that burned about 60 acres of grass and chaparral in steep canyons near Happy Canyon Road and Alisos Avenue in Santa Ynez.

As of 5 p.m., the Happy fire was approximately 50-percent contained, and crews would be on scene all night, said Mike Eliason, public information officer for Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The fire that broke out about 12:50 p.m. was driven by gusty 15 to 20 mph winds and quickly spread from 10 to 50 acres, Eliason said.

The fire's progress was stopped at 2:03 p.m. with water drops from a helicopter, retardant drops from aerial tankers and fire lines cut by bulldozers and a handcrew.

But around 2:50 p.m., gusty winds spread the flames beyond the protective lines firefighters had established, Eliason said.

At that time, a second alarm was issued for an additional helicopter and aerial tanker, as fire dispatchers said the fire was within one mile of structures.

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However, no structures were damaged and no injuries were reported, Eliason said.

A total of three fixed-winged aircraft dropped retardant on the fire, while two helicopters dropped water from a nearby vineyard pond on hot spots, Eliason said. 

Nine fire engines, two water tenders, two bulldozers and two handcrews along with a unit from the U.S. Forest Service battled the flames. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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