SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A new round of dry, windy weather could cause a week's delay in containing the Santa Barbara wildfires that have already destroyed dozens of homes.
Humidity is dropping and there is a possibility wind could gust to 60 mph during the afternoon, forecasters said.
The wind could push flames into areas where about 145 homes are still threatened, Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki said. Those homes were evacuated last week and residents have not been allowed to return.
Crews were able to contain about 80 percent of the fire before the forecast of unfavorable weather led them to move the estimated date of full containment back to May 20.
The blaze had been essentially static through the past few days of cooler, humid weather, but conditions began changing Wednesday and there was no morning fog.
"There are little pockets of active flame," Sadecki said.
"We woke up to sunshine instead of the marine layer," Sadecki said. "That's usually a pretty good indicator here in Santa Barbara that we're in a for a hot, dry day."
The fire started on May 5 and blackened more than 13 square miles, destroyed 78 homes, damaged 22 and injured 29 firefighters. Investigators said it may have been caused by someone clearing brush with a power tool.
About 30,000 people were forced out of their homes during the firefight and thousands more were warned to be ready to go. Most evacuation orders were lifted late last week.
"The area that's left to contain is the most difficult ... extremely steep and very tall brush," Sadecki said. "The crews that are in there are having a very difficult time."
Most of the firefighters' injuries were minor but two suffered burns and a third suffered smoke inhalation when they were trapped in a burning home. One remained hospitalized Wednesday after surgery for burns.