Firefighters battle new blaze in California

In this photo released by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department on November 26, 2019, planes drop fire retardant as the Cave Fire burns towards East Camino Cielo in Santa Barbara, California. – A wind-driven brush fire that started late Monday November 25, 2019, afternoon in Los Padres National Forest near Highway 154 in Santa Barbara County moved quickly downhill, prompting mandatory evacuations and threatening homes. The Cave fire started just after 4 p.m. near East Camino Cielo and Painted Cave Road and by 8 p.m. had grown to at least 2,500 acres, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. (Photo by Mike ELIASON / Santa Barbara County Fire Department / AFP) 

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Hundreds of California firefighters on Tuesday battled a wind-driven brush fire that grew out of control overnight near Santa Barbara, threatening thousands of homes and prompting evacuation orders.

The so-called “Cave Fire” that started around 4:00 pm on Monday in Los Padres National Forest, grew to 4,100 acres (1,659 hectares) overnight as it moved toward populated areas in the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta and nearby communities.

Some 600 firefighters were battling the blaze that prompted evacuation orders for about 2,400 homes.

Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Daniel Bertucelli said helicopters and fix-wing tankers were assisting the firefighters who faced steep, rugged terrain.

The fire was zero percent contained by midday Tuesday but officials said they were hopeful that a storm set to arrive in the area later in the day would help extinguish the flames.

“What’s working in our favor is we’re getting rain tonight,” Bertucelli said.

The storm is expected to dump about an inch of rain in the fire region, bringing the potential of flash floods and debris flows, authorities warned.

The blaze comes on the heels of a series of fires that erupted in the state last month destroying homes and vineyards and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.

© Agence France-Presse