Fires

Rucker Fire near Lompoc caused by vehicle, officials say

Watch as intense smoke from Rucker Fire rises near Lompoc

Smoke from the Rucker Fire in Lompoc, California, engulfed the Central Coast town as evacuations were ordered Friday, September 29, 2017.
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Smoke from the Rucker Fire in Lompoc, California, engulfed the Central Coast town as evacuations were ordered Friday, September 29, 2017.

A malfunctioning vehicle was responsible for sparking the series of vegetation fires that collectively became the Rucker Fire near Lompoc, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

“Several pieces of catalytic converter were collected” in the area of the fires, Mike Eliason, a Fire Department spokesman, said Sunday.

As of Sunday morning, the blaze that broke out Friday north of the city had charred 441 acres and was 90 percent contained.

However, gusty winds Sunday afternoon carried embers beyond the containment line near La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, causing a flare-up of the fire, Eliason said. The flare-up charred 2 to 4 acres, with air tankers requested to assist with the battle, he added. As a precaution, an evacuation warning was issued for La Purisima Mission, a popular tourist spot and hiking locale.

Containment was originally expected by Sunday night; however, due to weather conditions and the fire’s jump over the containment line, officials do not expect 100 percent containment until 6 p.m. Monday night, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The fire, which began shortly after 2 p.m. Friday on the 2200 block of Rucker Road and other roads in the area, threatened dozens of structures and forced the evacuation of several neighborhoods north of Lompoc before firefighters gained the upper hand.

After the first report of flames, crews quickly determined there actually were up to 10 separate blazes, Eliason told Noozhawk.

No injuries have been reported.

The Rucker Fire threatens structures near Rucker Road and Via Orilla near Lompoc on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. It was one of three fires burning in the area Friday afternoon.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at tbolton@noozhawk.com. This story includes reporting from North County editor Janene Scully. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz.

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