A wildfire exploded out of control Friday on the Central Coast, burning more than 3,000 acres in just a few hours and forcing evacuations amid 90-degree heat and low humidity.
The Alamo fire grew from 500 acres to more than 3,000 acres Friday afternoon along the border between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, prompting a frantic response from firefighters from across Southern California.
Officials said the fire was moving at an “extreme rate of spread” with spotting well in front of the main fire.
It threatened a number of isolated homes Friday afternoon, said Chris Elms, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Firefighters were also battling a second fire, known as the Tower fire, along the 101 Freeway near Cuesta Grade in San Luis Obispo County.
“Yesterday as the sun went down, we threw everything we had at it from the air, held it to 175 acres,” Elms said. “As the sun came up, temperatures went through the roof.”
The fire had been about 20% contained to start the morning but only because of air drops of fire retardant, Elms said. The blaze jumped that barrier and Highway 166 in the afternoon, and in just a couple of hours it had nearly tripled in size as it raked over 500 acres of chamise and dense scrub oak in an unforgiving landscape.
“The terrain is just super steep, almost cliffs in some areas,” Elms said.
About 3:30 p.m. the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office ordered mandatory evacuations for homes in the White Rock and Blazing Saddles neighborhoods. Highway 166 through the area was closed.
A fleet of firefighting aircraft was requested to try to battle the flames as dusk and the notorious “sundowner” winds typically kick in, Elms said.
Los Angeles Fire Department officials said they are sending firefighters north to help with the battle.
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6:10 p.m.: This article was updated with more details on the fire’s spread.
5:45 p.m.: This article was updated with increases in the fire’s size and other details.
This article was originally published at 3:55 p.m.