A brush fire in the hills above Montecito forced evacuations and scorched several acres Tuesday, though the evacuation was soon lifted and the cause remains under investigation, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
With drops of water from helicopters and retardant from air tankers, the blaze at the Cold Springs trailhead, off East Mountain Drive, was held to three acres, said county fire Capt. David Sadecki. No injuries were reported.
The fire, reported about 11:55 a.m., was being held by 3 p.m. with a retardant line, as hand crews hiked in to establish control lines, he said. There was no wind to fan the flames, which were burning in heavy fuels in an area near power lines that was difficult to reach.
With hot, dry weather Tuesday, the brush fire in steep terrain drew a large response with 16 engines, two water tenders, three dozers, five helicopters, two air tankers and two hand crews dispatched from several agencies, including Montecito Fire Protection District, Santa Barbara County Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Department, Santa Barbara City Fire Department, Cal Fire, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.
Mandatory evacuations north of Mountain Drive, west of San Ysidro Road and east of Hot Springs Road, were eventually called off. A reverse 9-1-1 system was used along with Montecito radio stations and the Montecito Fire Protection District website to announce the evacuation order.
Three hikers, reported to be above the fire, were eventually able to hike to safety and required no further assistance, Sadecki said.
Dubbed the “Cold Incident,” the fire in the foothills above Montecito was east of the area engulfed by the Tea Fire, which burned 1,940 acres and destroyed 210 homes in November 2008.