A firefighter and helicopter lay down water and retardant to combat a fire burning across a portion of Hollister Ranch | Credit: Courtesy

A fire driven by strong offshore winds burned two hundred acres across a portion of Hollister Ranch early Thursday morning. Now at 10 percent containment, the blaze started around 2 a.m. as a one-alarm vegetation fire. The first crews on scene upped that assessment to a two-alarm fire, and additional engines, dozers, water tenders, and hand crews soon arrived.

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At daybreak, two helicopters and two air tankers began to lay down water and retardant, said Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Daniel Bertucelli, helping crews add containment lines by about 7 a.m. The winds, measured at nearby Gaviota Pass as gusting over 30 miles per hour at 3 a.m., had by morning subsided. The aircraft had returned to their bases, said Bertucelli, but firefighters remained on scene to ensure against flareups. No structures were burned in the fire.

High winds along the mountain passes have added to the fire dangers posed by dry heat the past week. On Wednesday, a small two-acre fire at the Nojoqui Grade called out four engine companies and a complement of dozers, water tenders, hand crews, and a battalion chief before a containment line could be placed around the highway-side fire.

Humidity levels in the single digits contributed to the Hollister fire, said Eric Boldt with the National Weather Service at Pt. Mugu. The sundowner winds peak during May and June, he added, and the persistent weather has brought heat and nightly north-northwest winds to Santa Barbara County. He expected a break as low clouds are predicted to blanket the coast by Saturday morning.


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