Rey Fire grows to 3,000 acres in Santa Barbara County

Firefighters from the Santa Barbara City Fire Department survey a flare-up on the west side of the Rey Fire on Friday afternoon.
Firefighters from the Santa Barbara City Fire Department survey a flare-up on the west side of the Rey Fire on Friday afternoon. Santa Barbara County Fire Department

As fire crews continued to battle the Chimney Fire near Nacimiento Lake in San Luis Obispo County, the Rey Fire burning in Santa Barbara County had grown to 3,000 acres by Friday night, officials said.

The U.S. Forest Service has command of the blaze, assisted by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and mutual-aid agencies from throughout the region.

“We did have a lot of fire activity here today and this afternoon with winds picking up on us,” said Manuel Madrigal with the U.S. Forest Service.

There was “pretty significant growth” with the expansion to 3,000 acres by Friday night, and there will be crews out all night to strengthen the containment lines and create new ones where possible, he said.

Winds changed the fire’s direction multiple times throughout the day Friday, but the actively burning areas are moving away from structures and populated areas. Some of the smoke was blown into San Luis Obispo County, turning the early evening sky into a shade of brown.

Authorities wanted to slow the growth of the fire Friday, which is spreading farther north into Los Padres National Forest land, but they faced challenges from temperatures in the mid-90s and gusty winds.

The fire was 20 percent contained Friday night, and about 500 personnel were on the scene working all sides of the fire, which is burning in rugged terrain along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez River area.

“Our main concern today is still that northeast corner,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said Friday morning. “We’re hitting it real hard with aircraft, and we’re going to helicopter up a hand crew to try to do some work.”

The fire, named for the area of origin along Paradise Road near Rancho San Fernando Rey and the White Rock Picnic Area, started just after 3 p.m. Thursday.

There is no estimated time for full containment.

“That’s going to be at the mercy of the winds,” Eliason said Friday morning.

No structures were immediately threatened, and none were damaged. Two firefighter injuries were reported as of Friday, one due to heat and dehydration and the other to bee stings.

Investigators haven’t released a cause of the fire, but Eliason said a tree limb did take down power lines along Paradise Road shortly before the fire was reported.

Residents of the canyon, campers and the county Probation Department-operated Los Prietos Boys Camp were evacuated along Paradise Road on Thursday afternoon and evening.

Paradise Road-area resident Rick Fish packed his car with belongings, clothing and his two dogs when he evacuated Thursday afternoon.

“I grabbed everything,” he said.

Fish said there were several power lines down, and that the “response from firefighters has been great.” He was allowed back into the area Friday, at least temporarily.

Sheriff’s deputies escorted small groups of campers back into the area to retrieve personal items Friday afternoon.

An evacuation center was set up at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and was put on standby status as of Friday morning.

There were no mandatory evacuations lifted as of Friday night.

Noozhawk.com is a Santa Barbara-based news website. This story includes reporting from Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland and managing editor Giana Magnoli.