The blaze, near Rice Ranch Road and Sage Crest Drive, threatened hundreds of homes and prompted nearly 600 evacuations, as well as numerous road closures. The Sheriff’s office began allowing residents to return a little before 5:00.
No structure damage or injuries were reported. A plume of smoke was visible for miles during the afternoon commute.
Gusty wind in the area caused concern about the fire’s potential to spread. Earlier estimates put the acreage burned at 75, but Santa Barbara County Fire has now revised that estimate downward to 36 acres of brush.
A dozen engines, as well as ground crews and air support were called in to attack the “Rice Fire”.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. Early reports indicate it may have been sparked by a welder working nearby.