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Montecito fire wasn't an accident, officials say*

November 16, 2008 |  6:45 pm

A charred car rest in the middle of a smoldering landscape along Conejo Road due to the Tea fire in Santa Barbara on November 15, 2008

Fire officials still don't know what caused the Montecito fire, but they don't believe it was an accident. According to CNN, they are calling it "human caused" but stop far short of calling it arson.

Fire investigators say they have eliminated “all accidental causes” of the Tea fire in Santa Barbara County and are asking for the public’s help in finding who caused the suspicious blaze that destroyed 210 homes and caused 2 injuries. “We are calling it human caused and we need the public’s help in identifying any activity in or around the afternoon of Nov. 13th,” said Doug Lannon, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

* Updated: The Times' Catherine Saillant reports that evacuation orders were lifted Sunday at 3:30 p.m. for all but 260 homes involved in the Tea fire. Firefighters have made good progress in a blaze that is no longer burning actively, said William Boyer, communications director for Santa Barbara County. "It’s not expanding,'' Boyer said of the 1,940-acre fire. "There’s still some hot spots. But there’s a very optimistic outlook at this point."

--Shelby Grad

A charred car rest in the middle of a smoldering landscape along Conejo Road due to the Tea fire in Santa Barbara on November 15, 2008. Photo by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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