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Crews halt Bar Fire near Refugio Canyon in Santa Barbara County

An air tanker drops a load of retardant on a vegetation fire burning Wednesday evening north of Highway 101 in the Refugio Canyon area of Santa Barbra County.
An air tanker drops a load of retardant on a vegetation fire burning Wednesday evening north of Highway 101 in the Refugio Canyon area of Santa Barbra County.

A vegetation fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon in the Refugio Canyon area along the Gaviota Coast was halted after burning about 20 acres, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The blaze, dubbed the Bar Fire, was reported shortly after 4:30 p.m. near the 12000 block of Calle Real, north of Highway 101 and east of Refugio Canyon.

The initial size-up of the blaze was 10-20 acres charred, with flames spreading at a moderate rate in heavy fuel.

There were reports at least two homes were being threatened in the area, but none was damaged, Zaniboni said.

At about 6:20 p.m., the forward progress of the fire was stopped, according to fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni.

Crews were still working to complete containment lines, Zaniboni said, and were expected to remain on scene throughout the evening.

Officials made evacuation notifications via the 9-1-1 system for residences in the area, including Refugio and Venadito canyons, according to emergency radio traffic.

Fire resources — including aircraft, engines and hand crews — were diverted to the blaze from the Rey Fire, Zaniboni said, which allowed for quick suppression of the blaze.

Refugio Canyon Road was shut down for a time at Highway 101.

Earl Warren Showgrounds was being opened to accept large animals evacuated from the fire area and anyone who needs assistance is asked to call 805.681.4332.

Evacuation orders for the Refugio area between Coal Canyon and the refinery were downgraded to evacuation warnings, with authorities instead telling people to shelter in place, around 6:30 p.m.

The Red Cross did activate an evacuation center at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School for impacted residents, the same site being used for Rey Fire evacuees.

Noozhawk.com is a Santa Barbara-based news website. Executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at tbolton@noozhawk.com.

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