Most of the thousands of people who fled a raging California wildfire in the mountains north of Santa Barbara have been told they can go home, as an approaching storm offered hope the flames would be doused.
About 4,000 of the nearly 5,500 evacuees were affected when authorities reduced the size of the evacuation zone.
The blaze had blackened more than 6.5 square miles of the rugged Santa Ynez Mountains, but most of that acreage was scorched in its first hours Monday.
Fire commanders described a fierce battle that saved homes as the blaze consumed brush in an area that had not burned for 29 years.
“We’ve had winds move up slope, down slope, across the slope,” Santa Barbara County fire battalion chief Anthony Stornetta said.
Helicopters dropped water on the fire during the night, and daylight allowed air tankers to drop long strips of fire retardant to box in the flames.
The fire began in Los Padres National Forest as winds gusted to 30 mph and higher.
Miryam Garcia, 21, and her mother, Norma Ramos, 47, fled their home as flames approached.