Memorial Day Campers Evacuated During 1,800-Acre Fire in Santa Barbara County

The wildfire burned through a campground Monday afternoon

Firefighters are battling an 1,800 acre wildfire in Santa Barbara County that prompted 4,000 evacuations from year-round and summer homes and campgrounds during Memorial Day, officials said.

The White fire was burning to the east along the Santa Ynez River, backed by strong winds. It is burning through forest and away from structures, according to officials with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The fire burned through Sage Hill campground (map), but details regarding damage were not available Tuesday morning, when Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials said burned acreage was at 1,800 acres.

Evacuation areas include Paradise Road, starting at the Forest Service kiosk. An estimated 4,000 people were evacuated, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

The Red Cross of Santa Barbara County set up a shelter at the Wake Center, 300 N. Turnpike Road.

 "It's an out-of-control wildfire so it is a threat," Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki told the Associated Press. "There's a lot of dry vegetation in its path. It's still spring -- it's not even summer -- and it's burning like it's August or September."

The fire is threatening 50 residences, five commercial properties and 50 outbuildings and other structures northwest of Santa Barbara, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire began at 2:30 p.m. Monday. It was 10 percent contained as of early Tuesday.

Aerial crews are expected to return to the area Tuesday morning after they were grounded Monday evening because of strong winds. More than 550 firefighting personnel were assigned to the fire Tuesday. Six air tankers and six water-dropping helicopters were assigned to the fire.

Strong winds and warm conditions are expected again Tuesday. An air quality warning was issued for Santa Barbara County as smoke from the fire spread over the region.

Authorities have not determined the cause of the fire.

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