Cooler weather allowed over 800 firefighters to surround most of the Cachuma Fire, which blackened 1,127 acres near Santa Ynez as of 8 p.m. Thursday.
Los Padres National Forest officials declared the fire 75 percent contained, with full containment expected by 6 a.m. Saturday, May 8. Although favorable weather and increased availability of fire-fighting equipment helped slow the fire’s advance, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service still closed the San Rafael Wilderness area and several campgrounds near the burn area, citing concerns for public safety.
“If the Cachuma Fire continues its spread into the San Rafael Wilderness, or if another fire starts in this area, it could be impossible to find and extract people from the backcountry,” Santa Lucia District Ranger Kathleen Phelps said in a press release.
Campgrounds closed included Nira, Davy Brown and Cachuma, but officials said they will be reopened as soon as conditions permit.
Temperatures exceeded 90 degrees when the fire started on the afternoon of May 3 and dropped to the mid 70s by Thursday afternoon. Firefighters from Santa Barbara County continued contributing to containment efforts, along with personnel from Los Padres National Forest and Vandenburg Air Force Base. Air National Guard cargo planes dropped 21,600 gallons of fire retardant and water on the flames Wednesday, but have since been recalled because of the effectiveness of suppression efforts.
To date, the Cachuma Fire has cost an estimated $450,000 to fight. The cause of the fire, located 14 miles northeast of Santa Ynez and 22 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, is still under investigation.