Brush fire near Lake Cachuma prompts evacuations, closes Highway 154

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (KABC) -- A large, fast-moving brush fire erupted in the Lake Cachuma area of northern Santa Barbara County Saturday afternoon, prompting evacuations and the closure of Highway 154 in the area.

The blaze, dubbed the Whittier Fire, started around 1:45 p.m. along the highway, burning about 330 acres near Camp Whittier. By late Saturday evening, the blaze had exploded to 5,400 acres with 0 percent containment, according to the Los Padres National Forest Twitter account.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for people residing in the corridor, which leads people from Santa Barbara up to Santa Ynez, Los Olivos and other areas in the northern county.

Fire officials said about 80 people were at Camp Whittier when it was evacuated. There were 90 campers and 50 staff members who were evacuated from Circle V Ranch Camp.

In a statement from the camp, the campers were escorted to Old Mission Santa Ines near Solvang. Campers from Ventura and Los Angeles counties were taken to a point-of-origin, where their parents and guardians picked them up.

Evacuation warnings were issued for Paradise Road and West Camino Cielo.

The highway was shut down from Highway 246 to State Route 192.

The following places were under evacuation orders:

  • Cachuma Camp
  • Camp Whittier
  • Rancho Alegre
  • Circle V Ranch
  • Live Oak Camp
  • Cachuma Village

Evacuation centers were set up at San Marcos High School, 4750 Hollister Avenue, and Santa Ynez Elementary School, 3325 Pine St. Anyone with small animals could bring them to the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
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