SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Fire officials on Thursday lifted the last mandatory evacuation orders for a wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes in Southern California's Santa Barbara County.
The fire, which has charred 8,700 acres, was 90 percent contained Thursday, up 10 percent from Wednesday. The progress came despite winds that gusted up to 65 mph overnight.
"The firebreaks were wind-tested and survived," said William Boyer, spokesman for Santa Barbara County. "Everything is OK."
Firefighters had feared the winds would push remnants of the fire into an area northeast of the city and threaten 45 properties. The National Weather Service said the winds calmed down by 7 a.m.
Fire Capt. David Sadecki said only a few hotspots remained but added that they would be difficult to contain because of the steepness of the terrain in the Santa Ynez Mountains.
The lifted mandatory evacuation order had affected about 100 residents, the last of 30,500 forced from their homes at the height of the blaze. Authorities also lifted all evacuation warnings, a lesser alert that allows people to remain in homes but cautions them to be ready to leave.
The fire started May 5 and over several days was fanned by the area's notorious "sundowner" winds. Flames destroyed 80 homes, damaged 15 others and injured 29 firefighters. The fire was then suppressed by days of calm, foggy weather.