Crews battling an 1,800-acre fire in Santa Barbara County capitalized on Mother Nature's goodwill Tuesday by attacking it from the air and building a fire line before winds were expected to pick up.
"The winds are almost nonexistent, so we're taking advantage of the weather right now," said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen, the noise of a helicopter in the background.
Hundreds of firefighters were in Los Padres National Forest battling the White fire, which was about 10% contained Tuesday morning. Madsen said crews were focused on containing the northern flank of the fire, which burned into the Upper Osos area north of the Santa Ynez River and Paradise Road.
The fire began about 2:45 p.m. Monday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of campers, residents and Forest Service employees.
Madsen said the fire has since moved past those buildings.
"It's burning back in the forest now," he said.
Flames did, however, reach a Forest Service outpost, burning one building and two vehicles, Madsen said. Some campgrounds along Paradise Road also were affected, but a damage assessment has not been completed yet, he said.
No injuries have been reported.
Officials were keeping a wary eye on the weather, as forecasters anticipated stronger sundowner winds throughout the county later in the day. A high-wind warning has been issued for Santa Barbara County until early Wednesday.
Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said wind gusts were expected to hit 45 mph.
"As it gets toward nightfall, the winds are definitely going to pick up again," he said.
Humidity levels were expected to drop Tuesday afternoon to about 35%, with temperatures reaching about 80 degrees, Seto said. Overnight humidity levels would rise to about 80%, he said, with temperatures dipping into the 50s.
The White fire was burning in the same area scorched by the roughly 480-acre Rancho fire in 2007. It was also "burning toward the footprint" of the Zaca fire, Madsen said.
The Zaca fire was one of the largest in state history, burning almost 375 square miles of wildnerness over nearly two months. That blaze cost an estimated $118 million to fight.
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