The fire burned 25 acres and was 45 percent contained. The so-called Lookout Fire broke out in the Painted Cave area near Highway 154 at about 8 a.m. At one point, 100 structures were threatened, fire officials said. Forty homes were evacuated, but residents were later allowed to return to their homes.
"It's a slow-driven fire. It's burning in a northeasterly direction," Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki said, adding that the fire was burning against rocks and running out of fuel.
Authorities say there are 16 engines assigned to the blaze, along with two air tankers and four helicopters. Sadecki said they are concerned about the wind changing directions. Firefighters were trying to get the upper hand on the fire before stronger winds kick in.
Eric Fultz, an evacuee, said he and his family have lived in the area for generations.
"Right now it's real close to our water source we've been getting since before 1928. And that's what I'm really concerned about," Fultz said.
His brother Peter said it's been stressful watching the fire burn in the canyon near his home.
"I have 80 stairs to get to my home, so carrying stuff out is not easy. Matter of fact, I think I'll just leave it all there. If it burns, it burns," he said.
Santa Barbara County Fire says one firefighter was injured. He suffered a minor leg injury in a canyon below the fire. A search-and-rescue team hiked in to get him out so he could be taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The cause of the fire was unknown but some power lines were down in the area, Sadecki said.
The Painted Cave area was the scene of another fire in 1990 that killed one person and burned about 550 homes over 7 1/2 square miles.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.