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Crews hope to contain Santa Barbara County fire by Friday

October 18, 2012 | 10:28 am

 

Firefighters expect to fully contain a brush fire in the rugged mountains above Santa Barbara by Friday evening, officials said Thursday.

The Lookout fire has scorched about 44 acres since it broke out near Highway 154 and Painted Cave Road at about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said. The acreage was originally reported between 20 and 25 acres, but officials said better mapping led to a more accurate estimate.

Crews managed to stem "significant" activity overnight and doubled the containment to about 75%, Sadecki said. The plan for Thursday is to finish control lines, keep the fire from growing and begin mop-up efforts with hopes of fully containing the fire by 6 p.m. Friday.

The fire is burning in a steep, rugged area Sadecki described as a "bowling alley" given the number of rocks coming down the hillside.

At its height, the fire forced mandatory evacuations of about 40 homes and threatened an additional 60, but no structures have been lost, Sadecki said. One firefighter suffered a minor leg injury; another was treated for dehydration.

Officials have yet to determine what sparked the blaze — downed power lines were found in the area, but Sadecki said investigators do not believe they were to blame.

The Painted Cave area was the site of a devastating arson fire in 1990 that killed a 37-year-old woman. That $250-million fire burned 427 homes and 11 other buildings in about two hours.

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-- Kate Mather

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

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