[Update: Friday, 12:53 p.m.] Mike Eliason with County Fire said the Woodchipper incident has been fully contained. A third brush fire (the first two in the area were grouped into a single incident for organizational purposes) broke out late last night, also nearby. Due to its proximity, it was named the Woodchipper 2 incident, and it grew to 24 acres before it was fully contained. All three of the small blazes, said Eliason, have been successfully “put to bed.”
[Update, 3:15 p.m.] Danny Maher, the spokesperson for CHP’s Coastal Division, has said all lanes of Highway 101 will be open on both sides “within minutes; they’re probably open by now as we speak.”
[Update, 1:55 p.m.] The southbound side of Highway 101 near the Woodchopper brush fire has opened up, according to the California Highway Patrol’s Buellton office. The northbound #1 lane is open, but other lanes remain closed north of Highway 154.
[Update, 1:15 p.m.] An air attack unit on its way to fight the Woodchopper incident spotted a separate brush fire nearby at 6859 Cat Canyon Road. That fire is approximately four acres in size. While the two blazes are technically two separate incidents, they are being classified as one for the sake of resource request purposes, said County Fire spokesperson Mike Eliason.
Firefighters are holding the first section of the Woodchopper incident to approximately five acres and recently closed down both sides of Highway 101 in the area. Los Padres and Cal Fire crews have arrived to assist. No injuries have been reported. It’s unclear if any structures are currently threatened.
[Original report: Thursday, 12:49 p.m.] Santa Barbara County fire agencies are fighting a small brush fire that sprang to life Thursday afternoon at Highway 101 and Zaca Station Road north of Buellton. The fire, which is being called the Woodchopper incident, had burned about five acres just after noon, reports the Lompoc Record. Highway 101 remains open, but officials said a closure may soon be necessary. County Fire spokesperson Mike Eliason reports that at least two tankers and a helicopter have responded to the scene. Downed power lines are making access difficult, he said. Winds are relatively calm and blowing northeast.
Meanwhile, the Thomas Fire continues to burn approximately 60 miles away in Ventura County. More 2,500 hundred firefighters from across California are battling it.
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.