The White fire that burned nearly 2,000 acres in Santa Barbara County this week was started accidentally, officials said Friday.
The blaze was sparked by embers that escaped from an approved fire-use site at the White Rock Day Use Area in the Santa Barbara Ranger District’s Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area, a joint investigation by Los Padres National Forest officials and the district attorney’s Arson Task Force found.
Preliminary estimates put the cost of the fire at $3 million.
Officials urged the public to “be vigilant” when cooking or enjoying campfires at campgrounds and day-use sites.
“The White fire could have been avoided if this person or persons paid closer attention to their cooking fire,” said Santa Barbara District Ranger Pancho Smith.
The fire broke out Sunday in the Los Padres National Forest, and flames quickly consumed brush, oak trees and chaparral, the U.S. Forest Service said. It raged out of control on a day when Southern California was buffeted by high winds as fire crews responded to other, smaller brush fires in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.
Close to 900 firefighters battled the wind-driven fire as it swept through popular recreation areas. It burned 1,984 acres before it was contained Thursday.