Caballo Fire Caused by Propane-Fueled Torch in Unpermitted Vegetation Burn

Authorities Conclude an Attempted Weed and Vegetation Fire Went out of Control in Area

The Caballo Fire burned 70 acres from September 6 to 8 in Los Olivos before it was contained. | Credit: Mike Eliason/S.B. County Fire

After a week of investigation, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department concluded the Caballo Fire — which burned 70 acres from September 6-8 in Los Olivos before it was contained — began as the result of an out-of-control, unpermitted vegetation burn in the area.

In a statement released Tuesday, the department said a “propane-fueled torch” was used to eradicate weeds and vegetation without a fire department permit, and the resulting fire “escaped the control of the operator” and caused the Caballo Fire.

The fire prompted an evacuation on Tuesday, September 7, and one barn on Avenida Caballo was reportedly damaged. 


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Department officials warned residents against attempting any open flames or vegetation burns without permits or guidance from the county. This announcement comes in a period of hot and dry weather, which has contributed to a number of wildfires in the state.

“The Santa Barbara County Fire Department does not recommend using torches or open flames for weed or vegetation control,” County Fire Chief Mark A. Hartwig, and Deputy Fire Chiefs Rob Heckman and Woody Enos wrote in the release. “A permit from the Fire Department is required for anyone operating a torch or an open flame device in a wildfire risk area.”

Anyone with questions for the county on how to obtain a permit can contact inspection.services@sbcfire.com or by phone at (805) 686-5077. Anyone with additional information regarding the fire should contact fire investigators at fireinfo@sbcfire.com.


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