The Alisal fire grew to more than 13,000 acres on Tuesday with 5% containment, as gusty winds have impeded efforts to drop retardant from the air, according to a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.
Federal officials are expected to take command of firefighting resources on Wednesday, the spokesman added.
The fire, which was reported shortly after 2 p.m. Monday near the area of West Camino Cielo and Refugio Road in the Santa Ynez Mountains, swelled to 1,000 acres by that evening and was fueled by "decadent old growth" chaparral and strong blasts of wind as it crept down the south side of the ridge toward the Pacific Ocean, according to Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen.
High, erratic winds kept aerial tankers from making an assault on the fire until Tuesday afternoon, when they began making regular sorties from the tanker base at Santa Maria Public Airport.
The Forest Service is expected to take control of resources, which includes 600 people from departments in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern and Ventura counties, Santa Maria and Vandenberg Space Force Base, although that number is expected to increase to about 1,000 once more firefighting personnel arrive after a busy summer.
"Firefighters are already in place, but what you’ve got are incident, logistics and operations commanders coming in," Madsen said. "A lot of teams had a lot of opportunities and have been engaged throughout the whole summer."
Officials issued evacuation orders Monday evening for Arroyo Hondo Canyon and the area between El Capitan Beach State Park and West Camino Cielo. An evacuation warning was issued Monday for the area east of El Capitan Beach State Park, west of Dos Pueblos Canyon Road, and south of West Camino Cielo.
The evacuation warning was expanded Tuesday to the area east of Calle Mariposa Reina, west of Arroyo Hondo, and south of West Camino Cielo as of 3:30 p.m., according to county officials.
Approximately 100 people were evacuated as of Tuesday morning, according to Madsen.
An emergency evacuation center was established at Dos Pueblos High School, which hosted 18 people Monday night, including 14 stranded Amtrak train riders and four evacuees, according to County Office of Emergency Management Director Kelly Hubbard.
No injuries were confirmed Tuesday, although a big-rig driver driver was transported to the hospital after their truck caught fire near Arroyo Quemada and Highway 101 on Monday, and medics responded to a firefighter that sustained an injury from a chainsaw laceration near Refugio Road on Tuesday, according to scanner traffic.
The blaze is located in a sparsely populated area between where the Gaviota fire in the early 2000s and the Sherpa fire in 2016 burned, and in an area that most likely hasn't experienced any fire activity since the 1955 Refugio fire, according to Madsen.
Aided by water-dropping helicopters, fire crews were located atop the mountain range, where the fire was burning Tuesday afternoon, according to Madsen. Officials estimate 100 to 120 structures remain threatened.
In addition, power was shut off to the fire area, and a public safety power shutoff was in place for portions of North County, although the shutoff was not directly related to the fire, according to Hubbard.
The Tajiguas landfill is believed to be the only structure damaged in the fire, including its anaerobic digester, the materials recycling facility and piping that carries methane gas, according to County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig.
Structure protection crews were deployed throughout the area, mostly in Refugio Canyon, he added.
Concern has shifted to evacuating livestock from the area, according to Madsen. Small animals are being received at the Santa Barbara shelter located at 5473 Overpass Road, and large animals are accepted at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, according to County Animal Control.
Anyone who needs help evacuating animals can call 805-681-4332.
County officials on Tuesday issued a warning for air quality due to smoke and ash from the fire. The county air quality index indicated a shift from "good" to "moderate" with an increase in particulate matter in Santa Barbara and Lompoc from Sunday to Monday, according to data.
"Essentially, the fire burned down all the way down to [Highway] 101 and crossed the 101, in El Capitan, and burned vegetation by the beach," said Madsen, adding that a few acres of Refugio State Beach were impacted.
Both the north- and southbound lanes of Highway 101 were shut down between Highway 1 and Winchester Canyon/Cathedral Oaks roads at 5:30 p.m. Monday and remain closed until further notice.
Alternate routes included Interstate 5 and Highway 154, which was experiencing increased traffic on Tuesday due to the fire, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The Gaviota State Beach day use area was open Tuesday, although vehicle access was restricted due to Highway 101's closure, according to Madsen.