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Santa Barbara County brush fire is 45% contained, officials say

October 17, 2012 |  4:43 pm

A brush fire in Santa Barbara County that threatened around 100 homes and has forced dozens of mandatory evacuations was 45% contained as of about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.

The Lookout fire, which broke out about 7:45 a.m. near California 154 and Painted Cave Road, has scorched about 15 acres, Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said. No structures had been lost or damaged, but one firefighter suffered a minor leg injury Wednesday, Sadecki said.

The blaze burned through steep, rugged terrain, which made it difficult for firefighters to get near the blaze, Sadecki said. Late Wednesday afternoon, Sadecki said more than 300 fire personnel were on scene. Several agencies from Santa Barbara County and the U.S. Forest Service were on hand, along with air tankers and helicopters.

Temperatures in the mid-80s and breezy conditions that were expected to intensify later in the day never materialized, fire officials said.

Downed power lines were found in the area, but Sadecki said investigators did not initially believe they sparked the fire. The cause of the blaze remained under investigation. Officials said they might have additional information at a 4:30 p.m. press conference

An evacuation center has been set up at the Wake Center on the campus of Santa Barbara City College. The center is located at 300 N. Turnpike Road.

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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-- Matt Stevens and Kate Mather

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