Fire crews from multiple Santa Barbara County fire agencies brought a wildfire near El Capitan State Beach to 50% containment at 420 acres by 6 p.m. Friday, assisted by aerial tankers, helicopters and bulldozers.
No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged by the fire, dubbed the Real incident, and all evacuations were lifted except for El Capitan Canyon, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman said.
The fire reported about 4:45 p.m. Thursday at El Capitan State Beach was driven by strong winds and spread swiftly across Highway 101 and Calle Real, forcing the evacuation of El Capitan Resort and El Capitan Campgrounds.
A second alarm was called at 5 p.m. to bring in more resources to bolster aerial tankers, and by the time darkness fell and the tankers had to stop flying, the flames had consumed about 50 acres and were 0% contained.
Firefighting units from Los Padres National Forest, the cities of Santa Maria and Santa Barbara and County Fire's Los Alamos station battled the blaze, while the California Highway Patrol and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office units evacuated campers.
Animals were also evacuated from El Capitan Ranch, and an evacuation warning was issued for Winchester Canyon.
For about two hours, northbound Highway 101 was closed at Varas Canyon Road, and southbound lanes were closed at Refugio State Beach, according to the Santa Barbara Area Office of the California Highway Patrol.
But the CHP reported both southbound lanes and one northbound lane reopened about 8:15 p.m. Thursday.
By Friday morning, containment had grown to 20%, and crews labored all day to increase that to 50%.
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County Fire spokesman Capt. David Bertucelli said no injuries were reported, but there was no estimate for a time of containment.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.
Meanwhile, County Fire and Lompoc Fire Department units were called to fight a series of spot fires on the southbound side of Highway 101 near Los Alamos where a semitruck-and-trailer rig had blown a tire.
The spot fires, estimated at 3 acres, were located about seven-tenths of a mile south of Alisos Canyon Road, where CHP units funneled slow-moving traffic into a single southbound lane of Highway 101.
Vegetation fire around the El Capitan area near US 101. El Capitan Campgrounds are being evacuated. US 101 NB closed at Las Varas and US 101 SB closed at Refugio. Please stay away from the area. Closure duration is unknown. @KEYTNC3 pic.twitter.com/jZsiMWg7RS— Santa Barbara CHP (@CHP_SantaBarb) October 18, 2019