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90,000-acre La Brea fire in Santa Barbara County is 94% contained

August 20, 2009 | 10:53 am


The nearly 90,000-acre La Brea fire, believed to be started by Mexican drug traffickers, is inching toward containment this morning as firefighters continue to build a fire line around the area.

The fire is 94% contained and more than 1,520 firefighters battled the blaze, which started Aug. 8 in the Los Padres National Forest.

An evacuation order issued Aug. 11 by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department that closed 14 ranches was lifted this morning. There are now no evacuation notices in effect anywhere around the fire, said Joe Pasinato, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Pasinato said the fire’s growth was minimal overnight -- 353 miles -- which is small compared with some nights when it grew by more than 1,000 acres.

U.S. Forest Service fire investigators believe it was sparked by a propane-fed camp stove used by drug traffickers.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: The La Brea fire on Aug. 16 in the upper reaches of Cottonwood Canyon in Santa Barbara County. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times